Wednesday, 31 December 2014

city breaks - listening exercises

There is some very helpful information available if you're planning a city break - in easy English for the non-English speaker:
Jay Doubleyou: city guides in english

The very good website Esol Courses
Jay Doubleyou: free english lessons with

... has some very useful exercises to help you with tourist information:

Reading and Listening Exercises for Intermediate and Advanced Students

Travel and Holidays - ESL Lesson Activities and Printable Worksheets

free english lessons with

An excellent place to go for lots of free interactive stuff is Esol Courses:

Welcome to ESOL Courses - FREE English Lessons Online

Practise your English with our free interactive listening lessons, reading exercises, quizzes and games.

English lessons for beginners
elementary lesson resources for English language teachers
English lessons for Pre-Intermediate level students
English for Intermediate learners
Upper Intermediate English activities
English vocabulary games and quizzes
English for Work
ESL reading activities
ESL cloze activities
grammar for English students
song quizzes to learn English
English picture vocabulary quizzes
Crossword Puzzles for English students
Mouse TrapFree online English lessons, by ESOL Courses

ESOL Courses - Free English Lessons Online

Just a couple of examples, looking at holidays and travel:
Elementary English - Planning a Holiday
Travel and Holidays - ESL Lesson Activities and Printable Worksheets

english language - english etiquette

So much of the English language is imbued with/permeated by/completely influenced by the manners and mannerisms of the English.

As always, Woodlands Junior has some excellent ideas:

Chatting at a wedding

Acceptable Behaviour in England
English Social Customs

In fact, there are lots of excellent places to go to explore this on-line:

Drinking tea (c) Heart of England

British etiquette: manners/customs in UK/Britain/England

The British themselves have problems on 'how to behave correctly':
The Times Book of Modern Manners: A Guide Through the Minefield of Contemporary Etiquette: John Morgan: 9780723010708: Books

The most famous 'guardian' of how to behave is Debrett's:

British Behaviour, British Etiquette | Debrett's

ostentation étiquette

I to O, British Behaviour, British Etiquette | Debrett's

Monday, 29 December 2014

slow food: "pleasure, hedonism, enjoyment, tranquility, conviviality, richness"

Topsham is quite a foody centre - not only with some excellent places to eat but hosting a weekly community market with good things to eat:

Topsham Community Market

The Topsham Community Market runs from 8.30am till 1pm every Saturday. There is a good mix of food stalls (Olives, Meat, Fresh Bread and Croissants, Cheese, etc), antiques, clothes, jewellery and craft stalls.

Topsham Community Market - Sale in Exeter, Topsham -
Topsham Community Market | Devon Hour

And every summer there is the Food Festival.

Topsham Food Festival

Topsham Food Festival
Slow Food Devon Topsham Food Market | Good Game | Devon-made Game & Cured Meat Products

The Slow Food Devon Food Market is a celebration of the wide choice of local produce available on our doorsteps. Each producer featured in the market shares the principle of growing ‘proper’ food, slowly and in harmony with nature, food that is “good, clean and fair” – the vision set out by Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini in 1986.

Weekend of ‘slow food’ and fun with Topsham Food Festival and Nello's Longest Table | Exeter Express and Echo

Slow Food Devon

Slow Food is a global, grassroots organisation with supporters in over 150 countries around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to the community and the environment.

Slow Food was initially founded by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists in Italy during the 1980s with the aim of defending regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life. In over two decades of history, the movement has evolved to embrace a comprehensive approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, people, politics and culture.
In the decades since its beginning, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people, in over 150 countries.
We aim to reinvigorate people’s interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. Recognising the importance of our local food traditions and the years of accrued knowledge and culture that accompanies this, Slow Food promotes true enjoyment of good food, and food production systems that provide good, clean and fair food for everyone.
Slow Food inspires change internationally through a variety of programmes, including:
  • Celebrations of the gastronomic traditions of the world, artisanal cheese and fish, and meetings of our worldwide networks in our international events;
  • From animal welfare to land grabbing, addressing hot topics that we care about;
  • Countless activities organized daily by Slow Food members in our convivia (local groups);
  • Linking food producers, chefs, academics and representatives of local communities worldwide in the Terra Madre network;
Slow Food Uk - Celebrate what’s on your plate!

Slow Food International - Good, Clean and Fair food.
Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity

The Independent runs regular features on the Slow Food movement:

Pleasure, hedonism, enjoyment, tranquility, conviviality, richness; Slow Food has never made any bones about its commitment to the truly sweet things in life. There are no hair shirts in the Slow Food Movement, no trace of the puritanical urge that says if something is worth fighting for it must involve a degree of pain and hardship. Petrini recalls that the founding in 1986 of Slow Food's immediate forerunner, Arcigola, "was celebrated with a memorable two days ... the celebratory dinner finished only at the first light of dawn, after the final toast with a 1939 Barolo."

But conviviality has nothing to do with frivolity, and Petrini's greatness lies in his seriousness and his restlessness. Slow Food may have begun with a toast and an excellent dinner, but he has never allowed the movement he founded to lose sight of the fact that it is engaged in an epic struggle.

The rarity of mulberries makes them a treasure hunt to find

The rarity of mulberries makes them a treasure hunt to find
Beyond blackberries and plums, there is an abundance of more unusual autumnal fruit out there, just waiting to be picked and made into delicious desserts, sauces and even cocktails.

Fruity little numbers: Try our pick of some of the lesser-known autumnal fruits - Features - Food and Drink - The Independent
Tuscan wine-makers up in arms as authorities attempt to make viniculture more sustainable - News - Food and Drink - The Independent
Croatia: Hunt out an authentic flavour - Europe - Travel - The Independent
Shropshire: Not just local shops for local people ... - UK - Travel - The Independent

See also:
Futures Forum: Christmas farmers' market in Sidmouth: Saturday 13th Dec
Futures Forum: Climate change: the role of livestock and agriculture.......... or: "Can steak save the planet?"
Futures Forum: km zero - zero food miles

charles dickens at christmas

Charles Dickens is famous for his detailed pictures of Victorian life:
Jay Doubleyou: oxford graded reader and bbc film: hard times by charles dickens

The Michelle Henry website has links to lots of great stuff:
Charles Dickens - ESL Resources

The BBC has dramatised most of his novels:
BBC - Drama - Bleak House
BBC One - Great Expectations

His life is interesting - again, with help from the BBC:
The life of Charles Dickens (BBC) –[Multimedia-English videos]
BBC - Primary History - Famous People - Charles Dickens

The year 2012 saw the bicentenary of his birth:
Dickens 2012 |

His most famous stories, however, are about Christmas:
The Chimes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
... which are available as easy readers:
ESL Publishing Trotty Veck and His Daughter Meg | ESL Publishing

And the most famous is Christmas Carol:

File:Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol-Title page-First edition 1843.jpg

A Christmas Carol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Again, there are lots of great materials from the BBC:
BBC - School Radio - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. 1: Marley's ghost
BBC - Victorian Christmas - Activities - Reading 'A Christmas Carol'
Dickens | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

And there's a lot of stuff for the ESL learner and teacher:
A Christmas Carol - easy reader
"A Christmas Carol" - simplified version (KEY included) worksheet - Free ESL printable worksheets made by teachers
A Christmas Carol — ESOL Extras
English teaching worksheets: A Christmas Carol
"A Christmas Carol" lesson plans @Web English Teacher

On New Year's Day, BBC Radio will be broadcasting a dramatisation of the story:
BBC Radio 3 - Afternoon on 3, BBC Performing Groups Best of 2014, A Christmas Carol

British writers are of course not the only ones to tell stories about Christmas:
Jay Doubleyou: hans christian anderson

Thursday, 25 December 2014

twas the night before christmas

This Christmas poem is now a classic:

Clement Clarke Moore (1799 - 1863) came from a prominent family and his father Benjamin Moore was the Bishop of New York who was famous for officiating at the inauguration of George Washington. The tradition of reading Twas the night before Christmas poem on Christmas Eve is now a Worldwide institution and tradition.
Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863) wrote the poem Twas the night before Christmas also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822. It is now the tradition in many American families to read the poem every Christmas Eve.
The poem 'Twas the night before Christmas' has redefined our image of Christmas and Santa Claus. Prior to the creation of the story of 'Twas the night before Christmas' St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers!
Clement Moore, the author of the poem Twas the night before Christmas, was a reticent man and it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem. The condition of publication was that the author of Twas the night before Christmas was to remain anonymous. The first publication date was 23rd December 1823 and it was an immediate success. It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry.

Twas the Night before Christmas Poem

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"


Here are two cartoon versions:
Twas The Night Before Christmas as told by Perry Como - YouTube
Twas The Night Before Christmas - YouTube

And here's a really good reading of the poem:
'Twas the Night Before Christmas, as read by Penguin authors - YouTube

And here is a very old Disney version:

This is the original uncut version of The Night Before Christmas, from the Silly Symphonies Collection from Disney.

Loose rendition of Clement C. Moore's famous poem. St. Nick is seen delivering the toys he made in last year's "Santa's Workshop."

The Night Before Christmas Disney's Silly Symphonies YouTube - YouTube

favourite christmas music

Besides some wonderful Christmas carols
Jay Doubleyou: favourite christmas carols

... there's some great Christmas classical music incorporating many of these favourites:

Nigel Hess: A Christmas Overture:
A Christmas Overture - YouTube

Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Christmas Carols:
Fantasia on Christmas Carols - Vaughan Williams - YouTube

Hely-Hutchinson: Carol Symphony: 
Victor Hely-Hutchinson (1901-1947) : Carol Symphony (1927) - YouTube

Britten: A Ceremony of Carols:
Benjamin Britten - A Ceremony of Carols (Op. 28) - George Guest; Marisa Robles; St. John's Cambridge - YouTube

Leroy Anderson: A Christmas Festival:
ONT - Leroy Anderson - A Christmas Festival - YouTube

John Fox: Carol Fantasia:

Monday, 22 December 2014

favourite christmas carols

Here's a list of great carols to listen to on YouTube:

Shepherds Pipe Carol - The Cambridge Singers (Rutter) - YouTube

Jesus Christ The Apple Tree - YouTube

Gabriel's Message - The Sixteen - YouTube

In Dulci Jubilo - Howard Goodall - YouTube

King's College Cambridge 2008 #4 The Holly and the Ivy arr Walford Davies - YouTube

King's College Cambridge 2008 #3 Sussex Carol arr. Philip Ledger - YouTube
Sussex Carol - YouTube

The Coventry Carol - Trad. - YouTube
Queen City Brass Band - Coventry Carol - YouTube

King's College Cambridge 2010 #14 I Saw Three Ships - YouTube

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Traditional Choir - YouTube
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Acoustic Guitar - YouTube

King's College Cambridge 2008 #5 Angels From The Realms of Glory arr. Philip Ledger - YouTube

King's College Cambridge 2010 #9 Ding! Dong! Merrily on High - YouTube

In the Bleak Midwinter (Darke) [King's - 2012, № 14] - YouTube - Harold Darke version

In The Bleak Midwinter : Choir of Kings College, Cambridge - YouTube - Gustav Holst version

The Spinners - The 12 Days of Christmas - YouTube
Straight No Chaser - 12 Days (original from 1998) - YouTube

Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (Gardner) [King's - 2007, № 6] - YouTube - Gardner version

Winchester Cathedral Choir - Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day - YouTube - Rutter version

PERSONENT HODIE. arr. Gustav Holst - YouTube
Hildegards - Personent Hodie - YouTube

Ensemble Corund performs John Rutter: Nativity Carol - YouTube

King's College Cambridge 2008 #10 What Sweeter Music John Rutter - YouTube

King's College Cambridge 2008 #7 The Shepherd's Carol Bob Chilcott - YouTube

#02 Up! Good Christen Folk, Piae Cantiones King's College Cambridge 2009 - YouTube

1. Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen; Ensemble Amarcord - YouTube
#03 A Great and Mighty Wonder arr. James Whitbourn King's College Cambridge 2009 - YouTube

#04 A Spotless Rose, Herbert Howells King's College Cambridge 2009 - YouTube

Here We Come a-wassailing - YouTube
The Sorry Lot ~ Here We Come A-Wassailing - YouTube

The Boar's Head - YouTube
Steeleye Span The Boar's head Carol - YouTube

A Virgin Most Pure (Traditional English Carol) - YouTube
A VIRGIN MOST PURE (Mathilde et Carla) - YouTube

Deck the Halls - Mormon Tabernacle Choir - YouTube
flash mob at the University of Minnesota, "Deck the Halls" - YouTube
Deck the Halls With Chips and Salsa - YouTube

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear {Hymn} [King's - 2006, № 10] - YouTube

City of London Sinfonia/John Rutter/The Cambridge Singers - We Wish You a Merry Christmas (English) - YouTube

Quem Pastores Laudavere – arr Rutter - YouTube

#09 Oh Holy Night arr. John Rutter King's College Cambridge 2009 - YouTube

Cantiones- Unto us is born a Son. (Breda Cathedral Choir.) - YouTube

O Little Town of Bethlehem (Vaughan Williams) {Hymn} [King's - 2005, № 6] - YouTube - Vaughn Williams version

King's College Cambridge 2011 #4 O Little Town of Bethlehem H Walford Davies - YouTube - Davis version

Sans Day Carol [King's - 2011, № 5] - YouTube

The Cherry-Tree Carol [King's - 2012, № 8] - YouTube
Mark O'Connor bluegrass band - Cherry Tree Carol - YouTube
Peter, Paul & Mary - The Cherry Tree Carol (Holiday Concert) - YouTube

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly - King's College, Cambridge 2008 - YouTube

Past Three O'Clock [King's - 2007, № 10] - YouTube

Wexford Carol arr. Stopford - YouTube

King's College Cambridge 2010 #17 Bethlehem Down - YouTube
Peter Warlock - "Bethlehem Down" - A Carol for String Orchestra (arr. Philip Lane) - YouTube

To finish, a collection from 'The Sixteen' who are really the best:
A Traditional Christmas Carol Collection from The Sixteen - YouTube

celebrating english eccentrics

British prime-time TV broadcast a dramatisation of a rather unpleasant moment in British media life - when an innocent man was accused of murdering his neighbour simply because he was “weird”, “posh”, “lewd” and “creepy”:
The fate of Christopher Jefferies shows that it can still be dangerous to be different - Comment - Voices - The Independent
Episode 1 | The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies - ITV Player

These on-line reports are from the time - three year ago;

If in doubt arrest the local 'nutter'

Postby Scottybottybanana » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:32 pm
I noted over the weekend that the first person they arrested in the search for the murderer of Joanna Yeates was in fact the local eccentric 'Chris Jefferies' 

A man described by the media as having "Wild hair', 'Dead Eyes', 'liking poetry', being a 'liberal democrat supporter', 'posting washing to his mum' and having no interest in cars (Even though the police took away two and it is reported that he helped Greg Reardon start his car before his ill-timed journey to his family) 

He was slandered in the media and had his liftestyle as a 'bachelor' torn apart all because he was a 'bit different' therefore an easy target. Surprise surprise when he was released with no charge. 

If in doubt arrest the local 'nutter' -

Posh loner who liked poetry but not sport “obviously did it”, say media

Posted on December 12, 2010
Chris Jefferies may have committed the murder of Joanna Yeates – but as one of the fundamental principles of our legal system reminds us, he is innocent until proven guilty. It’s become a tradition in these cases for the media to indulge in heavy handed, nudge-nudge wink-wink implication when reporting the arrest of someone even before any charges have been brought.
Recall the case of the Ipswich Ripper, who murdered five women in 2006. The case is still notorious, but most of us have forgotten about Tom Stephens, the innocent but extremely odd man arrested wrongly for the crime spree. As soon as his name was revealed, numerous outlets started heaping increasingly peculiar implications on him – normally using anonymous comments from neighbours an acquaintances.
The most bizarre of these, which I remember made me laugh out loud at the time, was that he had been “digging in his garden with a small trowel“.
The smear was that if he was digging, he must have been burying something (or someone). In reality, of course, if digging ones garden with a small trowel was a crime then millions would be detained every Sunday afternoon and the panellists of Gardeners’ Question Time are veritable Moriartys.
The same is happening to Chris Jefferies. I am not attempting to go on some crusade to clear his name – for all I know, he may well be guilty. The police may know more that persuades them of this. What is certain is that the media do not, but are engaging in trial-by-tittle-tattle all the same.
Here are a choice selection of some of the reports about Jefferies so far, including some recognisable classics of the genre and some really weird ones:
“Oddball” – Almost all newspapers
A loner” – Almost all newspapers
If you spot any other corkers, put them in the comments and we can build up a full innuendo collection.

Posh loner who liked poetry but not sport “obviously did it”, say media « Crash Bang Wallace

On the other hand, we could celebrate eccentricity:


Published on Oct 14, 2014

An eclectic globe-trotting adventure, A Different Drummer: Celebrating Eccentrics, introduces us to several living and historical eccentric characters who flaunt their extraordinariness through their innovation, curiosity and non-conformity. Directed by Academy Award winning director John Zaritsky, the film explores the findings of Dr. David Weeks, a Scotland-based psychotherapist who claims that eccentrics live longer and are happier and healthier that those of us who cling to conformity.
A Different Drummer: Celebrating Eccentrics [Trailer] - YouTube
A Different Drummer - Celebrating Eccentrics – According to a ten-year study by Dr. David Weeks, eccentrics are healthier, happier and tend to live longer.

Why not do the quiz and see how eccentric you are?
Quiz – A Different Drummer - Celebrating Eccentrics

Sunday, 21 December 2014

sharing our lives with wolves: on bbc's shared planet

In Devon we have had our own tussles with large mammals:
Futures Forum: On the River Otter: questions of potential parasites on BBC's Spotlight: and it's not just beavers who might be carrying EM...

The county not only is privileged to have two National Parks which provide space for several large mammal species:
Emperor of Exmoor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Futures Forum: "But I recognise national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty are called that for a reason. They have a special status, it is a status we must respect."

... it also has extensive areas of AONB:
East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - Biodiversity
Futures Forum: Biodiversity in East Devon

Should these areas be home to more, larger mammals - or would this be at the expense of its human population?
People and Wildlife, Conflict or Co existence? | Ecology and conservation | Cambridge University Press
Futures Forum: National Parks and people-free spaces

Devon already has its wolf population:
The Wolf Centre: Shaun Ellis at The Wolf Centre: The official website for Shaun Ellis - learning the truth about wolf and dog behaviour | Site

A much-watched documentary was made six years ago about the man behind the wolf centre in North Devon:


Published on Jul 17, 2012

Shaun Ellis has joined a pack of wolves, living and behaving like them. Abandoned at birth, three wolf pups are raised by Shaun who then teaches them the ways of the wild. As they grow up, he feeds, sleeps and breaths the same air as his wolves and in return they give him a place in the pack. Seeing the world as a wolf, Shaun takes a step further and comes up with a plan to help wild wolves threatened in Poland.

Wikipedia Page :

A Man Among Wolves - YouTube

There has been a lot of debate about reintroducing wolves to Scotland:
BBC Nature - Would you have wolves and bears living next door to you?
Should lynx, beavers and wolves be reintroduced to the British countryside? | Environment | The Guardian
Wolf Reintroduction yes or no - Page 37 - Wild About Britain
Let's have a proper debate about restoring our native wildlife - Stuart Housden's blog - Our work - The RSPB Community

Would wolves in Devon make sense? After all, once upon a time Dartmoor had wolves:
The Last Wolf on Dartmoor

This proposal is from a couple of years ago:

Hay Festival 2012: Britain should ‘rewild the countryside’ with wolves, lynx and moose

Britain should bring back wolves, lynx and moose, according to environmentalist George Monbiot.

Speaking at The Telegraph Hay Festival, he said that sheep farming in places like Wales, Dartmoor and the Yorkshire Dales is likely to retreat as it becomes more and more difficult to compete in a global market.
Instead he said the uplands and other areas currently used for farming should be allowed to ‘re-wild’.
This would mean re-introducing wolves to the Highlands, beavers to rivers, moose and lynx to forests, wild boar across the country and a range of insects and birds. It would also mean replanting land with native species like oak, ash, willow and alder.
“As agricultural subsidies begin to disappear – which they will within a decade, we are going to see a retreat from farming on the uplands whether we like it or not," he said. "The question is what do we do with it? I would like to see lost specie re-introduced, removal of fences, blocking of drains and the restoration of whole eco-systems.”
The controversial idea, put forward in his new book 'Feral: Rewilding the land, the sea and the human world', is likely to upset many conservationists.
Hay Festival 2012: Britain should ‘rewild the countryside’ with wolves, lynx and moose - Telegraph

And the idea is gaining momentum - as reported by Geoffrey Lean in yesterday's Telegraph:
Futures Forum: A walk down primrose lane: "The Coalition's planning reforms have permitted grotesquely inappropriate development to flourish."

Carnivore Comeback: Bears and Wolves Are Thriving in Europe

Despite having half the land area of the contiguous United States and double the population density, Europe is home to twice as many wolves as the U.S.

A new study finds that Europe's other large carnivores are experiencing a resurgence in their numbers, too — and mostly innonprotected areas where the animals coexist alongside humans. The success is owed to cross-border cooperation, strong regulations and a public attitude that brings wildlife into the fold with human society, rather than banishing it to the wilderness, according to study leader Guillaume Chapron, a professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences' Grimsö Wildlife Research Station.

In Europe, "we don't have unspoiled, untouched areas," Chapron told Live Science. "But what is interesting is, that does not mean we do not have carnivores. Au contraire; we have many carnivores." [Images: Carnivores of Europe]

Europe's carnivores bounce back

Chapron and his colleagues pulled together data from all over Europe — excluding Russia, Ukraine and Belarus — on the population numbers of brown bears (Ursus arctos), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), wolverines (Gulo gulo) and gray wolves (Canis lupus). Their results, published today (Dec. 18) in the journal Science, reveal that large carnivores in Europe are doing very well.

With the exception of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, every European country in the study has a permanent and reproducing population of at least one of the four large carnivores, the researchers reported. The continent is home to 17,000 brown bears in 10 populations spread over 22 countries. There are 9,000 lynx in 11 populations in 23 countries. Wolves are thriving, with more than 12,000 individuals found in 10 populations in 28 countries.

Wolverines can live only in the cold climates of Scandinavia, so Norway, Sweden and Finland are the only countries in the study that host all four of Europe's major large carnivore species. There are two populations of wolverines in Europe, with an estimated total of 1,250 individuals. (However, wolverines do face threats from climate change, due to their cold-dependent lifestyles.)

Some small populations of carnivores are in decline across Europe, the researchers noted, but none of the large to medium populations are suffering.
Attitudes toward the wild

What makes this success so surprising is that these wolves, bears, lynx and wolverines are surviving largely outside of protected areas.

"Maybe the wolf is your black bear," Chapron said, explaining European attitudes toward the animal. In the United States, he said, wolves are seen as animals that can't coexist with humans, whereas black bears are generally tolerated in residential areas, with locals making accommodations such as bear-proof trash cans.

Chapron acknowledged that there are clashes in Europe between carnivores and people, particularly around livestock farming. Traditional strategies — such as employing livestock-guarding dogs or shepherds, or corralling livestock in pens at night — help ease carnivore attacks on valuable livestock, and compensating farmers for losses can also help mitigate problems, he said.

"There is a need to keep the conflict at a low intensity," Chapron said.

Chapron also credited the Habitats Directive, a set of conservation regulations that protects species and habitat types across national borders, for keeping carnivores from decline and extinction.

"We have found a recipe that works," he said.

Whether a similar recipe could work in the United States depends on public attitudes. However, the European model clearly shows that large carnivores can coexist with people in places Americans tend to find unimaginable, Chapron said. In 2011, a male gray wolf traveled from Oregon to California, becoming the first wolf in the state since 1924. (He later trotted back across the border to Oregon, and fathered pups.)

The appearance of the wolf triggered debate over how to manage the return of wolves in California. That is a matter of public policy, but Chapron pointed out that there is a fast-growing wolf population in Germany and Poland, where roads are as dense as anywhere in the world.

"If people from California decide to have wolves," he said, "then the European model clearly shows that you can have plenty of wolves in California."

Carnivore Comeback: Wolves, Bears and Lynx Thrive in Europe - NBC

And the idea has gone very much mainstream:
John Ingham on Europe's thriving carnivore population | John Ingham | Columnists | Comment | Daily Express
Brown bears, wolves and lynx numbers rising in Europe | Environment | The Guardian
Carnivore Comeback: Wolves, Bears and Lynx Thrive in Europe | TIME

Interestingly, Fox News notes:

A relatively tolerant attitude toward large carnivores has also emerged in recent decades.

Study finds bears, wolves and other large carnivores gaining ground in Europe | Fox News

Meanwhile, in North America, the hostility towards large mammals is much more widespread:
BBC - Wonder Monkey: Unnatural selection: what is killing America's mammals?
Why Killing Wolves Might Not Save Livestock

There has of course always been conflict between larger creatures and humans:
Human Population and the Future of Diversity | Ecology Global Network
Key factors driving attitudes towards large mammals in conflict with humans

For a fresh look at these issues listen to BBC Radio 4 tomorrow evening at 9pm:

Sharing Our Lives with Wolves

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Few creatures have infiltrated our psyche as much as wolves. They haunt our imagination and appear in our stories, myths and legends. They are at once the embodiment of the devil and of the wild, enough dog that we relate to them, but also rugged, unpredictable and wild. They roam vast, untamed landscapes and then appear in our midst, hunting sheep and spreading fear. Our relationship has been so conflicting that they were almost eradicated from the earth by the end of the 19th Century. But since being protected they are slowly coming back in both Europe and America. Are we now able to live with them? Do we want to? Monty Don explores the enigma that is the wolf and looks at how our attitudes have shaped their destiny.

Tom Arnbom

Tom Arnbom
Tom Arnbom is a senior conservation officer at WWF Sweden. He has studied both sperm whales (M.Sc.) and elephant seals (Ph.D.) and has worked for both the Ministry of Enviroment and natural film industry.

For almost 20 years, he has been working in relation to large carnivores in Sweden and seeking solutions for carnivore conflicts on a European level with the European Commission.
He has vast experiences in human wildlife conflicts and has worked with the International Whaling Commission, sealing and Swedish National Carnivore Board.

Darlene Kobobel

Darlene Kobobel
Darlene Kobobel rescued a wolf-dog by the name of Chinook in 1993. The two-year-old female was going to be put down because she was a ‘wolf-hybrid’ but Darlene took her home and learned of the issues and controversies regarding wolf-dogs and wolf-dog breeders in Colorado county.

Wanting to provide a safe haven for unwanted wolf-dogs, Darlene launched the Wolf Hybrid Rescue Center. She and her team were inundated with calls from people who felt they can no longer keep them as pets.

Through this work, Darlene discovered that of the around 250,000 wolf-dogs born in the US every year, 80 per cent are likely to die before the age of three because they commonly have to be put down after being donated to shelters. Kobobel decided the answer was more education and began work to turn the Wolf Hybrid Rescue Centre into an educational facility now known as the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center.

Dr Thomas Heberlein

Dr Thomas Heberlein
Dr Thomas A Heberlein began his career as an environmental sociologist  in 1971, earning a Ph. D. in  Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He spent a year at the University of Colorado before joining the Department of Rural Sociology at Madison.

He served as Department Chair, Director of the Center for Resource Policy Studies and Programs and in the Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies at UW-Madison before retiring in 2001.

Heberlein was a visiting professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå Sweden from 2004-2012.

He currently divides his time between Sweden and the United States. His capstone book, Navigating Environmental Attitudes, Oxford University Press (2012), deals in part with his research on attitudes toward wolves.

Related Links

BBC Radio 4 - Shared Planet, Sharing Our Lives with Wolves

See also:
Futures Forum: New habitats, old habitats
Futures Forum: The role of trees and sheep in managing flood risk
Futures Forum: On the River Otter: Public Health England is "not convinced that the three Devon beavers necessarily represent a significant increase in overall risk.”