Two Swiss lynx to strengthen the population in Italy

In the canton of Jura, two lynx were captured by KORA in cooperation with the Institute for Fish and Wildlife Health FIWI and the responsible game warden, and were brought to Italy for release at the beginning of March. The purpose of the relocation is to prevent the extinction of lynx in the Dinaric mountains and the south-eastern Alps. Both lynx will be monitored by means of radio collars after their release.

From the Canton of Jura
On 2 March 2023, the canton of Jura reported the capture of two lynx in the Delémont district. The gamekeeper of the canton of Jura and the staff of KORA and FIWI were able to catch the two females at roe deers, that were killed by the lynx and to which they returned to feed on. The two lynx were found to be healthy by FIWI veterinarians. Genetic testing by KORA revealed that they are not related to each other. Before crossing the border, they were taken to quarantine stations. From there, a few days later, they went to Italy to the area of their release.

Off to Italy
Tarvisio in the province of Udine is located in the border triangle of Italy, Austria and Slovenia. The location is ideal for a release, as it is about 30 km west of a lynx population that has been reintroduced to the Slovenian Alps. The expectation is that the Swiss lynx will link up with this population, thereby strengthening it genetically and contributing to the long-term viability of lynx in this region.

Source: LCIE / Labels in red: KORA 

The lynx population in the Dinarides had declined sharply since the beginning of the millennium, was isolated and genetically impoverished. It was threatened with extinction, which is why an EU LIFE project «Preventing the Extinction of the Dinaric-SE Alpine Lynx Population Through Reinforcement and Long-term Conservation» has been underway since 2017 to increase the population by relocating lynx. A sub-goal of this project is the establishment of a stepping stone population in the Eastern Alps. The two Swiss lynx contribute to this. This stepping stone population should better connect the lynx population in the Dinaric mountains with the one in the Western Alps in the long term. A metapopulation is a population divided into several subpopulations. Gene flow between the subpopulations is possible but more or less restricted. If gene flow between two subpopulations is not sufficient to maintain genetic health (and corridor enhancement is not an option or not sufficient), occasionally an animal must be relocated. This is then referred to as a «managed metapopulation». More generally, a metapopulation can help to reduce the negative effects of habitat fragmentation and the genetic impoverishment of subpopulations.

Population in Switzerland
The removal of the two lynx from the Swiss Jura is not problematic for this population. The entire Jura arc is populated and the population is stable. The vacated territories will most likely be quickly reoccupied by young females.

Frame of the project
Within the framework of the LIFE Lynx project, 15 lynx have already been relocated to the Dinaric Mountains (Slovenia and Croatia) and to the Slovenian south-eastern Alps. In addition to the two Swiss lynx, two lynx from the Romanian Carpathians are expected in Italy this season. The relocation of the Swiss lynxes to Italy is a cooperation between the KORA Foundation, the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, the Swiss cantons, FIWI, the LIFE Lynx project and the Italian partners: the ULyCA2 project, the Carabinieri Forestali, the Progetto Lince Italia, WWF and the regional hunting associations.

For more information: 50 years lynx in Switzerland»