Wildlife of the Swiss National Park
Mammals of the Swiss National Park
A few hundred years ago, this area had populations of bear, wolf, lynx and bearded vulture, but sadly they had already died out before the foundation of the National Park in 1914. The last bear in Switzerland was killed on 1st September 1904 in the S-charl valley, only a few years before the National Park came into being. An attempt to reintroduce the lynx in 1972 failed. The animals set free had already disappeared by 1980.
In 2005 the first bear for 101 years was spotted briefly in the National Park, having crossed from Italy. The release of bears into the wild in the Brenta region (Italy) have given rise to discussions concerning an eventual reintroduction into the National Park, however, no such project exists in Switzerland at present.
Other wildlife in Switzerland.
Of the four frequently observed species of ungulates that draw so many nature lovers to the Swiss National Park, the red deer and ibex were not present when the Park was founded. The red deer first began to migrate into the Park from Austria in about 1918. The ibex now present in the Park originate from animals released between June 1920 and July 1934. The chamois is the only ungulate that has always been present in the area. The roe deer migrated here at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and settled permanently in the lower regions.
Marmot colonies are spread throughout the Park and are easily observed. Not rare, but difficult to find, is the Varying hare; whilst the European hare is slightly more common. Sightings of stoats and weasels are a question of luck, but Stone martens, although judging by their tracks, appear to be common, are rarely seen. Squirrel and foxes are both seen in varying numbers.
Members of the numerous small mammal population of the Swiss National Park, such as the garden dormouse, snow vole and common vole are not rare, but they are generally only seen by specialists.
On 5th June 1991 the bearded vulture was reintroduced into the Swiss National Park for the first time, and since then further releases have followed. By 2005 22 birds had left their release area on the Ofenpass.
Most of the birds of Switzerland can be seen here, and at the top of the tree are the 6 pairs of Golden eagles that breed in the Swiss National Park and its outlying regions. Like the Golden eagle, kestrels, ravens and Alpine choughs nest in steep-sided rock faces. Game birds include capercaillie, Black grouse, ptarmigan and Rock partridge, and the Hazel grouse breeds on the borders of the Park.
Nutcrackers are seen flying all over the Park. Various species of tit are common in the forest, as is the Great Spotted woodpecker, whilst the Black and Three-toed woodpeckers are much rarer, and the Green woodpecker is only found in a few places. The sound of the wheatear and the Water pipit can be heard in the Alpine meadows. One of the highest recorded breeding places of the skylark (2400 m.) is found in the National Park.
There are only two species of amphibians in the Park, the common frog and the Alpine newt. There are two sorts of reptiles, the common lizard and the Northern viper (which is venomous). These amphibians and reptiles reproduce in spite of the difficult climatic conditions. The brown trout is present in most streams and rivers. More than five thousand species of invertebrates can at present be classified within the National Park.