UPPSALA, Sweden, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Europe, more densely populated and roughly half the size of the United States, has nearly double the population of grey wolves.
And they aren't the only species thriving there. A range of once vulnerable large predator species have rebounded in Europe, according to a new study published this week in Science.
In addition to wolves, stable populations of brown bears, Eurasian lynx and wolverines are all on the up and up in Europe. At least one of the four animals is present in roughly a third of Europe's mainland.
The study, which included participating scientists from 26 countries, was led by Guillaume Chapron, an ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
"This is a success story that builds on a good legislation, political stability, strong institutions and a favorable public opinion," Chapron said in a recent press release.
The brown bear is credited with the most impressive comeback. There are more than 17,000 brown bears living among 10 major population clusters, present in 22 countries. Europe's 12,000 wolves are also concentrated in 10 distinct population centers, stretching across 28 countries. Eurasian lynx are in 23 countries -- 9,000 strong. Europe's wolverine population, of which there are 1,250, is limited to Scandinavia -- grouped into two populations in Sweden, Norway and Finland.
The new study confirms that Europe's forests, as well as its omnivores and herbivores, are in much better shape than they were a century ago.
While two-thirds of Europe is still without a stable population of bears, wolves, wolverines and/or lynx, scientists say their rebounding numbers are proof that these animals can coexist with humans and their dense urban centers.
Chapron concluded: "Our experience illustrates the incredible ability that these species have to survive to the modern, human-dominated world."