Large carnivores

Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

Until the mid-19th century, there were large populations of the four large carnivores; brown bear (Ursus arctus), wolverine (Gulo gulo), wolf (Canis lupis) and lynx (Lynx lynx), throughout much of Norway. All four species were hunted relentlessly. As a result, wolves and bears were almost exterminated by the mid-20th century. Since then, their populations have shown signs of recovery.

Wolf photographed under controlled conditions in an enclosure at Langedrag. Photo: Kim Abel,
Wolverine photographed in the wild in Finland. Photo: Terje Bredesen,
Lynx is the only wild cat in Norway. Lynx feeds on deer and smaller mammals. This picture is taken under controlled conditions. Photo: Kim Abel,

Population increase

Most of Norway's large carnivores belong to populations that we share with neighbouring countries. The populations of large carnivores have increased slowly since the mid-20th century when they were almost extinct. Wolverine and bear populations started to rise in parts of the country from the late 1970s, lynx in the 1950s and wolves in the 1990s.

More research and improved monitoring of the populations have given us more information on population sizes and on the biology of these species. Read more about Norway's large carnivores:

The map shows management areas for bear (brown area), lynx (green area), wolverine (blue area) and wolf (red area). You can zoome in to explore further.

Measures to reduce conflict

Wolves and bears were protected throughout Norway in 1971 and 1973 respectively. Wolverines were designated as a protected species in southern and central Norway from 1973 and in the rest of the country from 1982.

Norwegian large carnivore management aims to maintain viable populations of the four large carnivores while also maintaining an active agricultural sector, including opportunities to use uncultivated land for grazing by sheep and reindeer. The Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) has also agreed to these recommendations. Steps to reduce conflicts between livestock and large predators are therefore very important.

In order to achieve the goals both for the large carnivores and for agriculture, the management regime varies from one area to another, whereby agriculture is prioritized in some districts and the large carnivores in others. Close contact with the local authorities and other stakeholders is very important.

Norway has international obligations

The Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats applies to all four of the large carnivores – wolverine, lynx, bear and wolf. The wolverine, bear and wolf are included in Appendix II, which lists strictly protected species, and the lynx in Appendix III, which lists protected species.

The wolf, bear and lynx are also included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This Appendix lists species in which trade may be permitted but must be strictly regulated.