If you want to see wolves and bears in the wild, you might think that a trip to Yellowstone, or some other national park, would be in store. But instead, you might think about touring Europe.
One of the most industrialized land masses on the planet is actually home to more wild bears than anywhere in the United States outside of Alaska. At last count, there were around 17,000 grizzly bears throughout 22Â European countries, compared to only around 1800 in the contiguous United States. Europe also has twice as many wolves as the United States beyond Alaska, despite being half the size, and more than twice as densely populated.
Free Range Roamers
And not all or even most of these European large carnivores are sequestered in national parks or nature reserves. They're also roaming the countryside, sometimes coming into conflict with farmers raising sheep and other prey animals.
So where are all these large animals coming from, and how is there so much room for them to thrive?
Wolves, bears, and other large predators have always been in Europe. And greater movement of human populations from the countryside to cities over the past several decades has made space for the animals to move in, breed, and thrive.
It also doesn't hurt that the European Union member countries are bound to the EU Habitats Directive, a law protecting endangered species.
Â Read More:
"Wolves and Bears Stage Comeback in Crowded, Urban Europe" (National Geographic)