Switzerland, just like many other European countries, had nearly lost its wildlife between the 17th and 19th centuries. However, conservation policies and the intervention of conservationists have seen the population rebound although much of the wildlife population in still recovering. Some animals such as wolves, bears, lynx, and beavers were declared extinct for more than a century until they began re-entering the country from Italy while some were physically re-introduced. The following are some of the animals found in Switzerland.
10. Alpine Marmot
Alpine marmots are the largest species of the squirrel family. They are found in the Swiss Alps from 2,500 to 10,000 ft. Marmots are excellent diggers and therefore live in burrows. They have large front teeth and thick fur coat. They can be seen scampering around the mountain slopes and occasionally wander into the paths of humans. Some Alpine marmots have become used to human beings that they venture into houses in search of food. They are more active active during the summer because they hibernate during the winter.
9. Alpine Ibex
The Alpine ibex is a species of the mountain goat that is easily distinguished because of the long curved horns in males, and the smaller but thinner horns in females. The ibex can be found roaming the mountains and plains of Switzerland. About two centuries ago, they were hunted to extinction only to be reintroduced at the beginning of the 20th century. Most of the reintroduced animals were smuggled from Italy. Today, there are about 40,000 of these animals in the Swiss Alps. They prefer wild and rocky habitats away from predators.
8. Brown Bear
The brown bear is an endangered species in Switzerland. In fact, it was an extinct animal for almost a century after the last bear was killed in 1904. Conservationists launched an unsuccessful effort to reintroduce and conserve the brown bear soon after. At the start of the millennium bears were reintroduced into the Adamello-Brenta Nature Park. In 2007, two more bears were added to the population. In 2017, a wild brown bear that had migrated from Italy was seen roaming in Switzerland, the first in over a century.
The chamois is among the few large animals that never became extinct in Switzerland although the population has remained low for the past century. In 1914, the Parc Naziunal Svizzer (Swiss National Park) was established specifically to conserve the chamois population. The chamois are excellent rock climbers; they spend the day leaping from one rock to another. They can be found in the Alps at high altitudes although they occasionally descend to feed. Apart from the Alpine region, they can also be spotted in the forests. There are about 1,700 animals roaming across Switzerland.
6. Mountain Hare
The mountain hare is a species of the hare family that has adapted to the mountainous and polar habitats. They are found across the mountainous regions of Switzerland especially in national parks, unlike the field hares that prefer the plains. They are found in the Alps but they are barely seen because of their white coats that blends them to the snow. Human activities especially the construction of ski resorts and tourism is pushing the mountainous rabbits into plains and forests that are not their natural habitats.
5. Bearded Vulture
The bearded vulture was hunted to extinction in Switzerland in the 19th century because the local population believed that the bird could kill sheep, horses, goats, and even children. It is locally known as the Lämmergeier which translates to ‘lamb vulture'. The bearded vulture was reintroduced to the country in 1986 where they began breeding. They can be seen in pairs especially during the breeding season. The exact number of bearded vulture in Switzerland cannot be ascertained but conservationists are determined to continue growing their numbers.
4. Red Deer
The red deer is the largest hooved wild animal in Switzerland. The deer was hunted to extinction in the 19th century. Their extinction led to the extinction or migration of predators. The government outlawed the hunting of the red deer and without a natural predator, they began migrating into the country from Austria. There are about 35,000 red deer inhabiting the Swiss Alps and the national parks.
3. Golden Eagle
The golden eagle once roamed the entire Central Europe but it was hunted to near extinction in the 19th and 20th century. The intervention of the government saved the bird from total extermination. A wingspan of six feet makes the flight of the golden eagle and impressive sight unless you are on its menu. The bird is considered the “king of the air” in Switzerland because it is unrivaled in air dominance. There are about 300 pairs of golden eagles in the country.
2. European Mole
The European mole is among the animals native to Switzerland. They are found in every corner of the European continent from Britain in the east to Russia in the west, except for a few isolated places. The mole prefers habitats with deep soil for tunneling deciduous woodlands and arable fields. They spend their entire life in burrows away from light and predators. The European mole can be found across the farmlands of Switzerland.
1. Barn Owl
The barn owl/common barn owl is among the most widely distributed birds in the world. It is found across the globe except in deserts and polar regions, Pacific islands, and Indonesia. In Europe, the bird can travel for about 900 miles from Spain to Ukraine. They are found in the woodlands of Switzerland where they hunt small rodents.