The Risnjak area has, in the past, and continues today, been home to the brown bear (Ursus arctos), the wolf (Canis lupus) and the lynx (Lynx lynx). These species depend on the enormous calm areas which are not disturbed by people and on the numerous animals which represent their typical prey. The number of chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) has decreased and their re-introduction into nature is one of the plans of action to be included in the Management plan. The Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) and Roe Deer (Capreolus capreouls) population is too small for the habitat capacity. Here we can even find Wild boar (Sus scrofa) whose population is stable.
The Lynx is probably the rarest and most hidden beast living in Europe. Only the best hunters or nature connoisseurs are able to find traces of the lynx or the lynx itself. The number of lynxes is so low that it is rarely seen and its presence is often missed. However, the lynx represents an important clip in the Risnjak ecosystem food chain. As well as this, the lynx has also given its name to the National Park.
At the moment, Risnjak is one of the rare key areas in Croatia where the lynx survives. In Europe is hard to find huge unexploited mountain forests such as the Risnjak National Park and its surrounding areas making it one of the last shelters for large animals in Europe.
The total estimated number of living wolves in Croatia today is 160 to 210. The Wolf is listed on the IUCN’s Red List as a threatened species and its hunting is forbidden by law. The main habitat for wolves in Croatia is the limestone ecosystems located in Gorski kotar, Lika and Dalmatia where most of the wolves’ population lives. By means of the LIFE, Protection and management project which takes care of wolves in Croatia, in the Risnjak National Park and within its surrounding areas, two wolf herds (Risnjak herd and Snježnik herd) are being traced.
Brown bears have been analysed in Croatia, particularly in the area surrounding the Risnjak Nationl Park, since the 1980s. The typical habitat of each bear is larger than the National Park area, which means that for the bear and other large animal preservation, the National Par’s borders are too small.
The controlled area of at least 500 m around the National Park’s borders has to be strictly used as numerous hunting-grounds in the surrounding areas are trying to tempt bears from the National Park area into feeding places which are located in its proximity.