Over the last decades there have been many projects and initiatives on the conservation of large carnivores in Europe including wolves, bears, lynxes and wolverines. With changing public opinion, stricter legal protection and some active reintroduction efforts for bears and lynxes, large carnivores have returned to places where they have long been absent. In response to human–wildlife interactions and stakeholder concerns, authorities and NGOs have responded with a variety of wellintentioned initiatives. For example, mushroom pickers were given advice on how to behave in bear habitats. Livestock owners were provided with electric fences and livestock guarding dogs for effective herd protection, an effort which led to recommendations being made for hikers and mountain bikers on how to interact with these large dogs.
Between 2017 and 2022, the EuroLargeCarnivores project team met, discussed and collaborated with more than three thousand people living and working with large carnivores throughout Europe. We tried our best in five focus regions to learn from everyone we encountered about the challenges involved: from the overworked damage inspector showing us one thousand and something photographs of livestock carcasses to horse owners worried about the first indication of wolf presence along their preferred weekend route, government officials scrambling to decide how to best implement the Habitats Directive, the shepherd in a panic after a wolf pack attacked his livestock at nightfall and the scientist struggling for decades to get their peers across the border to use the same monitoring protocol.