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Research article2011Peer reviewed

Factors affecting Eurasian lynx kill rates on semi-domestic reindeer in northern Scandinavia: Can ecological research contribute to the development of a fair compensation system?

Mattisson Jenny, Odden John, Nilsen Erlend B, Linnell John DC, Persson Jens, Andren Henrik


Semi-domestic reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) are the main prey for lynx (Lynx lynx) in northern Scandinavia. This causes large, but poorly documented, losses of reindeer. Although the compensation schemes differ between Norway and Sweden, there is a legal requirement in both Scandinavian countries that losses of semi-domestic reindeer to large carnivores should be fully compensated. The current level of compensation payment is based on limited data on lynx kill rates on reindeer. The main goal of this study was to quantify lynx kill rates on reindeer across a range of ecological conditions in northern Scandinavia. A total of 35 lynx were monitored during 3667 days. All lynx individuals killed reindeer. However, we observed a high variation in individual kill rates. Kill rates were strongly affected by sex and social status (i.e. females with and without kittens), as well as season and reindeer availability. The highest kill rates were observed in summer for male lynx, and the lowest were observed during winter for solitary lynx at low reindeer density. In summer, several female lynx switched completely to small prey species even at high densities of reindeer. The present political goals for lynx conservation in Scandinavia require that lynx occur in the reindeer husbandry area where reindeer are the only suitable ungulate prey available. Accordingly, it is therefore impossible to have the total prevention of depredation as a management goal. Rather depredation levels must be limited such that they are considered acceptable, and fair compensation payments should be paid. Our study is the first empirical quantification of the magnitude of lynx depredation on semi-domestic reindeer. This is an important step necessary to enable the setting of fair compensation levels and will hopefully lead to a reduction in conflict level concerning the potential impacts that lynx have on reindeer. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Human-carnivore conflict; Kill rate; Lynx lynx; Predation; Rangifer tarandus

Published in

Biological Conservation
2011, Volume: 144, number: 12, pages: 3009-3017

      SLU Authors

    • Mattisson, Jenny

      • Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)
      • UKÄ Subject classification

        Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

        Publication identifier


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