AFTER THE LATEST ICE-AGE THE LYNX MIGRATED to the Scandinavian Peninsula approx. 9. 000 years ago, at about the same time deer, elk, wild boar and the red fox established themselves there. The wolf and the humans were already present at that time. Approx. 4.000 years ago the climate became milder and conditions for farming cattle improved.
From this time onwards, the competitive situation between humans and lynx came about. The lynx has been hunted as long as it has been living in Scandinavia. In the first place for its fur. Already at the time of the Vikings, Scandinavia was an important exporter of lynx’ fur. The value of the fur increased, and at the time of Gustav Vasa (around 1550), a lynx fur had a value of 40 Mark, equal to the cost of rye for a complete family for a full year, The craving for the soft and smooth lynx fur was that big, that the Vasa kings appointed special lynx hunters to provide the royal households with furs, particularly so for bed clothing.
AT THE TIME OF KARL IX (around 1600) there were that many lynx’ in the Stockholm area, that the King could go on lynx hunting just outside of the city gates. The hunting intensity made the strain of lynx getting reduced already in the 16th century. On the list of predators to be shot, as commanded by Fredrik I during the period 1720 – 1737, we find 66 bears, 16 wolves but only 9 lynx’.
Hundred years later, around 1830, the lynx made no longer part of the usual predators in the south of Sweden. There were no more lynx alive in the province of Skåne. In the central part of Sweden the lynx’ strain was still strong. In the province of Västmanland, the lynx “density” was estimated to 10 animals per 1 000 km 2. This is as high as today’s provinces with a strong lynx population.
DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE 18TH CENTURY the population in the rural areas grew strongly and therewith the number of tame cattle. In its turn there was a corresponding increase in conflict between humans and the big predators. The hunt for lynx became intensified and modern weapons, like shotguns and breech loading rifles came in use. Swedens most successful lynx hunter of all times, Johan Källberg from the province of Dalarna, succeeded during the 1800’s in shooting no less than 195 lynx’. The pressure on the hunt on all types of game increased and that reduced the strains of elk, deer and roe considerably at the end of the 1800’s. Consequently also the number of lynx in the Swedish provinces went down steeply.
IN SOUTHERN SWEDEN, NO MORE LYNX were alive at the end of the 1830 decennium. Only 30 years later, the animal had disappeared from the Mälardalen area and its surroundings. During the beginning of the 1900’s, the Swedish State and some private funds like e.g. the Lappkassorna, had started to offer bounty for the shooting of lynx. This proved to be devastating for the yet already yielding lynx strain. In the year 1925 the only remnants of the lynx strain were found in Jämtland and the inlands of Västerbotten. In total a couple of hundred animals. In reaction, the lynx was declared a protected animal in 1928. Then the strain expanded again and in 1943 the hunt was on again. Notwithstanding the renewed hunt, the lynx’ strain continued to expand and the animals were found to live from the upper north of Norrbotten down to Småland. During the 1980’s the lynx was believed to be reduced in numbers again and it was placed under protection 1986 – 1995. From that year on, protective hunts have been carried out according to a controversial quotation system launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket).
This has led to a reduction of the lynx strain in the reindeer cattle areas, which was the intention. The lynx takes considerable numbers of reindeer, thus causing high losses for the reindeer farmers and for the Swedish State. South of the big reindeer farming areas, the lynx’ strain continues to expand southwards.