The Marsican brown bear is present in Italy (and Europe) exclusively with a population in the central Apennines. After a long period of decline and following conservation efforts, today the breeding core of the population is present almost exclusively within the territory of the Abruzzo Lazio e Molise National Park, and the immediate surrounding mountains,. The most recent assessments suggests and estimated population of 50 (45-69) individuals.
In 2014 in the territory of PNM, for the first time, a family group was observed. The species is now permanently present in the protected area.
In Italy the wolf is targeted directly only in Terni province, although also in PNALM and PNM it will benefit from the project implementation. In this area the activities are carried out mainly in order to function as demonstration actions, and to create a link between the beneficiaries of the LIFE STRADE project and the present one.
Presently the species is distributed all along the Apennines and since 1990 recolonized the alpine arch. The most recent estimate of the wolf population is about 1212–1711 wolves in the period 2009–2013 for the Apennine chain and 57-89 for the Alpine sub-population (Galaverni et al 2015)
Impact of roads on bears and wolves in Italy
Italy - Abruzzo
Although in the past 50 years road accidents accounted for only 13% of causes of mortality, the scarcity of the Marsican Brown bear population, recently estimated at round 50 indivituals (45-69), requires additional efforts to reduce this risk, since each dead animal (especially reproductive females) represent a crucial loss for the population.
Besides the direct mortality the presence of roads in Abruzzo also represents an important cause of habitat fragmentation. One of the main problems for bears is that the migration into new areas is a big challenge due to the presence of main roads, motorways and other infrastructures that cross the corridors leading to other potential territories. One major barrier is represented by the National Road SS17-SS5 (Sulmona-Roccaraso), which separates the range of PNALM and PNM. For this reason, interventions to mitigate the barrier effect will be set in place along the SS17, in order to allow the expansion of species.
Italy – Terni Province
During LIFE STRADE project in Terni Province wolf presence along the roads was witnessed by camera traps several times indicating that vehicular traffic represents a real risk for the species. Although there is no accurate estimate of the impact of vehicular traffic, in the first 5 months of 2017 WWF reports that 53% of the wolf mortality in Italy is caused by accidents with vehicles.
The Brown bear distribution range in Greece consists of two separate population nuclei, approximately 150-200 km apart and located in the north-western and north-eastern parts of the country, respectively in the Peristeri-Pindos and the Rodopi mountain ranges over a total surface of 13,500 km2 of permanent occupation range. Over the last 15 years the Greek bear population shows a constant geographical positive trend with recolonization of former (historical) range of the western distributional range. The permanent and recolonized range covers ~ 22,000km2 and the national estimated population size is of round 500 individuals (Pilidis 2015, Karamanlidis et al. 2017).
Impact of roads on the Greek Brown bear population
Both barrier effect and persisting fatalities on the national road network is estimated to affect ~30% of the local bear sub-population. From 2009 to 2017 46 traffic casualties involving Brown bears have been recorded on the highway and roads. It is worth noting that ~50% of bear traffic casualties were recorded on the Egnatia A29 highway segment, which since 2014 is fenced with a bear proof fence.
Telemetry data from 19 radio-tagged bears and 58.373 radiolocations (under LIFE ARCTOS KASTORIA project LIFE09NAT/GR/000333) have shown that the bear proof fence seems to have influenced the bear’s activity areas along the highway corridor. In particular, after the installation of the new fence core activity areas seem to appear at a longer distance from the highway route corridor.
The Iberian lynx is considered to be the most endangered cat species of the world (Novell, 2002). The evolution of the species in the 20th century has been clearly declining, passing from a population of 5-6.000 specimen in the 1960ies, to 1.000-1.200 in the 1990ies and down to estimated 160 individuals in 2002.
Since 2001 the la Consejería de Medio Ambiente de la Junta de Andalucía has started a strong effort for the conservation of the Iberian lynx, through the programa de Actuaciones para la conservación del lince en Andalucía I, II y III (Feoga) and three lynx recovery LIFE Projects: LIFE02NAT/E/8609, LIFE06NAT/E/209 and LIFE10NAT/ES/570 (ongoing). Thanks to these efforts the population of the species has greatly increased, in fact according to the last census made in 2016 the total number of individuals in the Iberian Peninsula has increased to 483 individuals, of which 397 in Andalucia.
Thanks to these improvements in 2015 the IUCN has declassified the Iberian lynx conservation status from Critically Endangered to Endangered.
Impact of roads on the Iberian lynx population
In the past years road casualties have become the main cause of mortality of the Iberian lynx in Andalucia. According to the last census, which reports the causes of mortality since 2002, the mortality on roads represents 44% of all the dead animals.
The Romanian brown bear population is distributed across the whole forested area of the Romanian Carpathian Mountains, occupying a surface of approximatively 69.000 km2 (Ionescu 1999). In 2016 the population was officially estimated at somewhere between 6050 and 6640 individuals (Iordache, Jurj et al. 2016). The highest density is registered in north-eastern and central Carpathians.
Impact of roads on the Romanian Brown bear population
The LIFE FOR BEAR project (LIFE13NAT/RO/1154) analyzed road and railway accidents with bears for the period 2007-2017 and identified 40 cases of accidents involving this species in the project area. In the period 2016-2017, following the ban on hunting for the brown bear species in Romania, an increase in the number of accidents involving the bears can be observed. Thus, only on the DN1 road section between Comarnic and Braşov 9 cases of bears killed by vehicles have been registered in the past year.
In the upcoming period (10 years) it is proposed to build a new motorway in the project implementation area, and this motorway along with the adjacent national roads would have a strong negative impact in maintaining the connectivity of the natural habitats of the bear population in Romania.