Europe’s migrant crisis harms Eurasian lynx conservation

“For the lynx, the construction of the razor-wire fence may just be the last push for the population…” so says John Linnell and co-authors of a study1 into the effects of building fences hundreds of miles long to block migrants from walking across country borders from Greece all the way to Germany.

Beautiful Eurasian lynx
Beautiful Eurasian lynx
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It an interesting and unforeseen consequence of building fences. When governments do this they not only block the movement of people crossing borders in remote places but also wildlife which have large home ranges and which are now divided up by these fences. This has a negative impact on conservation because the population is fragmented and therefore less healthy in terms of breeding and genetics.

The fence in question is the one between Slovenia and Croatia. It is 115 miles long and built of razor wire. It covers part of the 420 mile border between these two countries. There are others. Another is the 325 mile system of fences along the border between Hungry and Serbia and Croatia. A third is between Bulgaria and Turkey which is 100 miles long.

In 1973, the Eurasian lynx was reintroduced to the Dinaric Mountains straddling the border region. The Eurasian lynx had been wiped out by human activity including hunting. Now this at least partially successful reintroduction of an important species of wildlife has been jeopardised by people yet again.

Other species affected by these fences are the brown bear and grey wolf.

“The implementation of border fences in recognised natural areas surely means a step backwards for European conservation efforts.” (John Linnell lead author of the study).

1. Published in the PLOS Biology journal

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