Estonia (EE)


Area: 45’226 km²
Forests & Woodland: 48.7 % (2000)
Human population: 1’423’316 (2001)
Population density: 31.5 / km²


1. Lynx distribution in Estonia in 2001

click on map to enlarge
click on map to enlarge
Geographic range of the population(s)

Baltic population: The whole country except cities, but including the larger islands, is occupied by lynx. There is no information yet to separate permanently and occasionally occupied areas (probably in 2004). No isolated subpopulations within the country.

Methods: lynx tracks met by hunting units


Back to chapter Lynx distribution

2. Populations

Lynx population(s):
Population Pop. size
(Ø 1996-2001)
Lynx distribution area [km²]* [X] & [X+O] / country area [%] Pop. density [lynx/100 km²]
[X] [O] [?] [X+O]
Baltic 1'100 42'700 0 0 42'700 94.4 2.58
Total 1'100 42'700 0 0 42'700 94.4 2.58

* [X] = constantly occupied area; [O] = single observation(s), confirmed; [?] = single observation(s), not confirmed

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3. Size & trend

3.1. Estimations

Population Year Official
Accuracy Tendency
Baltic 1996 1200  
Overestimated, probably 20 %, but hard to prove.
1997 1200  
1998 1200  
1999 1100  
2000 1000  
2001 900  
Ø 1996-2001   1100      

  Number of estimated lynx in Estonia 1996-2001 (Baltic population). The estimations for 1990 and 1995, taken from the former inquiry, are also included.  

3.2. Methods and institutions responsible for the estimations

Population Official estimation Additional estimation
Baltic Hunters' estimates Monitoring based on snow tracking. a
Institution Estonian Ministry of Environment Estonian Ministry of Environment

a n.d.a.: There is no agreement how this different data should be managed.

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4. Management

4.1. International treaties

EU Habitat Directive Bern Convention CITES
- ratified 1992 ratified 1992

4.2. Legal status

Controlled hunting and trapping of lynx.

Hunting season: 01.11. - 28.02.
Yearly quota: Usually 100-150 animals per season; family groups are protected.
Institution responsible: Working group in the Ministry of Environment.
Method quota setting: As there is no reproduction data yet, it is mostly from previous years experience and monitoring data (basically all data available, sick animals etc.).
Comments: Harvest numbers depend largely on snow conditions. Trapping is not separated from hunting in databases, but it’s only occasional.

4.3. Harvest numbers and other known losses to the population(s)

Baltic 1996 yes 146 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 146 12.2
1997 yes 178 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 178 14.8
1998 yes 212 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 214 17.8
1999 yes 181 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 183 16.6
2000 yes 120 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 120 12
2001 yes 175 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 179 19.9
Total 1996-2001 - 1012 1 0 0 0 7 a 0 0 0 1020 -
Yearly Ø - 168.7 0.17 0 0 0 1.17 0 0 0 170 15.5
Known mortality /
100 km² [X+O]
- 0.4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.4 -

a rabies

  Number of known losses to the Baltic population in Estonia from 1996-2001.  

4.4. Lynx management

Population Authority in charge Management / Conservation Plan
National level Regional level
Baltic According to the management plan, a workgroup of large carnivores is established within the Estonian Ministry of Environment. Hunters’ associations, local branches of the Ministry of Environment. LÕHMUS, A. 2001: Large Carnivore Control and Management Plan for Estonia, 2002-2011.

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5. Depredation

No depredation losses due to lynx in Estonia from 1996-2001. No compensation systems and prevention methods are applied. 

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6. Threats

Major threats to the lynx population(s) in the country:
Population Past (<1996) Present (1996-2001) Future (>2001)
Baltic - -
  • Prey / food base

Comment: No serious threats could be foreseen except decline of its local main prey roe deer {but at the moment (2003) official numbers of roe deer have started to increase (from 30’000 to 35’000)}.

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7. Conservation

Conservation measure Lacking /
Drafted /
Implemented /
Management plans     x
Legislation on an international level     x
Legislation on a national level     x
Legislation on a regional level     x
Formal education     x
Capacity-building / Training     x
Population numbers and range     x
Biology and Ecology     x
Habitat status     x
Uses and harvest levels     x
Monitoring / Trends     x
Genetic status     x
Human attitude / Human dimensions x x  
Management of protected areas     x
Expansion of protected areas x    
Sustainable use / Harvest management     x
Disease, pathogen, parasite management     x
Limiting population growth x    
Genome resource bank     x

Back to chapter Conservation

8. Judgement

Judgement of the status of the population(s) within the country & most urgent actions needed:
Population Judgement Most urgent actions needed
Baltic data deficient
  • Improve monitoring system (incorporating telemetry (lacking) data)

Back to chapter Judgement

9. Projects

Population Title Duration Contact
Baltic / (Nordic) Large carnivores in northern landscapes: an interdisciplinary approach to their regional conservation (in collaboration with the other Baltic States, Poland and Norway). 2003-2005 Harri Valdmann:

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10. Contact

Population Name Address
Baltic Harri VALDMANN Department of Integrative Zoology, Institute of Zoology and Hydrobology, Vanemuise 46, 51014 Tartu, Estonia

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Country assessment

For the Baltic population, Estonia is vital. Lynx is distributed over more or less the entire country in a comparatively high number (see map and Table 2). The densities are highest in the forests of the north and centre (LÕHMUS 2001). This corresponds well with the distribution in neighbouring Russia where the density towards the south decreases as well. In Latvia, lynx presence is most coherent along the border with Estonia and becomes scattered further south (see Latvian report). The Estonian database does not allow to separate permanently and occasionally occupied regions (see point 1). The available information is mainly derived from hunting, also the official population estimates (Table 3.2). Since 1954, an inventory has existed, though without following a coherent methodology (MÄNNIL 2002). The official population numbers are considered to be overestimated (Table 3.1, LÕHMUS 2001). When taking into account an inaccuracy of 20% (Table 3.1), the current population size would reduce to 720 animals. An additional estimate made after a census in 1999 was 450 animals, however it was supposed to be underestimated (Valdmann in LÕHMUS 2001). The disagreement on the methods to be used for the population estimates is also indicated in Table 3.2. The Estonian lynx management plan (LÕHMUS 2001, ELF 2001) makes allowances for the fact that there is quite an uncertainty regarding the census and indicates as present population size a range of 600-900 individuals. According to the management plan, the long-term aim is to maintain a population of at least 500 lynx. However, to increase the reliability and accuracy of the estimations, the monitoring needs improvement. H. VALDMANN considers this to be the most urgent measure for the lynx population in Estonia (Table 8).

More accurate numbers would allow for a better hunting management. The possibility to continue hunting (of all large carnivores) is amongst the main objectives of the management plan (LÕHMUS 2001). The lynx number is said to have to be regulated because it is regarded as threat to the public health (rabies¹), to reduce its impact on game ungulate populations, and to preserve its shyness towards humans (ESTONIAN MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT 2000, LÕHMUS 2001). Following a peak of the lynx population in Estonia in the mid 1990s (Fig. 3.1), the number was intentionally reduced through intensive hunting (Table 3.1, MÄNNIL 2003, VALDMANN 2003). From 1996-2001, a total of 1012 lynx (which is an annual average of 169 animals) were harvested (Table 4.3), making up to 20% of the entire population considering the official figures. Taking into account that the population was likely overestimated, the loss was even higher. LÕHMUS (2001) recommends reducing hunting in the coming years to a magnitude of 10% of the official estimate. According to H. VALDMANN (pers. comm.), the harvest number for 2002 was 81 animals, less than half of the number in the year before (Table 4.3). As Estonia wants to continue regulating the lynx numbers through hunting (see above), but will recently join the European Union, the country applied for exclusion of all large carnivores from the Annexes II & IV of the Habitat Directive and inclusion to Annex V. This application has however only been met in the case of wolf (Table 4.1, ESTONIAN MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT 2000, LÕHMUS 2001). As lynx does hardly cause any damage to livestock (point 5), derogations to the Habitat Directive are difficult to fulfil. Estonia has, so far, maintained a healthy lynx population in spite of or maybe because of regulated hunting. The population clearly supports a certain harvest, and such a harvest increases the acceptance of a large carnivore species. The examples of Poland or Slovakia demonstrate that a ban on hunting may not lead to an increase of the species’ abundance. A ban of hunting may also in Estonia have a counterproductive impact. What however should be considered is a diversification of the hunting management. Estonia may contribute to strengthen the population towards the south (Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus) through a reduced hunting along its southern border.

Although the knowledge on the lynx in Estonia clearly needs improvement (first research projects started a few years ago, VALDMANN 2001, 2002, 2003) we consider the status to be rather "least concern" than "data deficient" (Table 8). Even when assuming a lower population size than the official data, the population seems to be safe. Major threats are not obvious at present (Table 6), potentially maybe over-hunting could be one (LÕHMUS 2001). Due to its importance for the Baltic population west of Russia, international co-operation has to be continued (e.g. Baltic Large Carnivore Initiative) or enhanced (towards Russia). In regard to the genetic similarity of the Baltic and the Finnish lynx (see population assessments and Phylogenetic history and subspecies), we recommend to develop a common conservation strategy with neighbouring Russia and Finland regarding the conservation of the species in the vicinity of the Gulf of Finland.

1 Lynx can get rabies (as indicated in Table 4.3), but lynx is not a vector species for rabies. A control of the lynx population has no effect on the rabies epidemic.



ESTONIAN FUND FOR NATURE (ELF) 2001: Report of the Status of Large Carnivore Conservation in the Baltic States and Action Plan for the Baltic Large Carnivore Initiative 2001-2005. Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg: 1-25 plus Annexes.

ESTONIAN MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT 2000: Conservation status of large carnivores in Estonia. The Bern Convention Group of Experts on Conservation of Large Carnivores. Report Oslo Meeting 22-24 June 2000, Council of Europe Publishing, T-PVS (2000) 33, Strasbourg: 46-47.

LÕHMUS, A. 2001: Large Carnivore Control and Management Plan for Estonia, 2002-2011. Status of Large Carnivore Conservation in the Baltic States. Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg: 1-53.

MÄNNIL, P. 2002: State actions for large carnivore conservation in Estonia in 2002. Abstract, 5th Baltic Theriological Congress held in Lithuania, April 2002.

MÄNNIL, P. 2003: Conservation requirements on large carnivores – efficient or not in Northern Baltic. Status, monitoring and management of large carnivores in Estonia. Abstract, Carpathian Workshop on Large Carnivore Conservation, Brasov (Romania) 12-14 June 2003.

VALDMANN, H. 2001: Current situation of the large carnivores in Estonia. Proceedings of the BLCI Symposium "Human dimensions of large carnivores in Baltic countries", 27-29 April 2001, Siauliai, Lithuania: 38-44.

VALDMANN, H. 2002: Lynx (Lynx lynx) in Estonia: Genetic differentiation, diet, habitats and diseases. Abstract, 5th Baltic Theriological Congress held in Lithuania, April 2002.

VALDMANN, H. 2003: Estonia. In: The Lynx – Regional Features of Ecology, Use and Protection, Ed. by YE.N. Matyushkin & M.A. Vaisfeld, Moscow Nauka 2003: 85-92.

Proceedings of the BLCI Symposium 2001, abstracts of the 5th Baltic Theriological Congress 2002, as well as the Estonian lynx Management plan, and the ELF report can be downloaded at:

> Literature

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