The Scandinavian brown bear was more or less extinct by 1920-1930. Probably only a handful was left in Norway, and in Sweden there were just a bit more than a hundred. Nobody knows the exact numbers, but there were few for sure. Today methods with DNA can be used even for animals, and after some years of hard work from nature management and hunters collecting samples, the researchers have determined that there have been at least 404 different bear individuals in Norway the last seven years. But they come and go from Sweden, so the Norwegian population of bears is around 150-160. In Sweden the population has been growing for a long time, and there are now about 3300 bears. The two countries cooperate through the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project.
All these facts are collected in a new book that summarizes the history of the Scandinavian bear, and the development in the last decades, I bjørnens spor (Following the tracks of the bear). It was released a few days ago, and I made an interview with the author yesterday. It was really interesting, and even if I spent the weekend reading the 400 pages I still have a lot to learn about this fascinating big animal.
The author of the bear book, Ole Jakob Sørensen, is a researcher at Høgskolen i Nord-Trøndelag and have been studying the brown bear for more than 30 years. In 2002 he was the host when the 14the International Conference on Bear Research & Management was arranged in Norway. My picture below is from when some of the participants visited one of the communities that got big problems with the return of the bears, Lierne. Because the predator made it almost impossible to keep herding animals like sheep. They easily get killed by bears. But on my picture everybody are happy.