Bears, or as Stephen Colbert calls them – godless killing machines – are thriving in Europe.

Other carnivores are also seeing a rebound across Europe. Wolves, wolverines, lynx and brown bears have seen their numbers rise to near-record highs according to a new study published in Science.

Part of the reason for the increase in population might surprise you. Europe’s approach to animal conservation is a bit different. Instead of pushing large predators to isolated state parks and conservation areas, Europe lets the animals stay closer to people.

Study leader Guillaume Chapron touched on why Europe does this. Europe doesn’t have “unspoiled, untouched areas,” Chapron told Live Science. “But what is interesting is, that does not mean we do not have carnivore. Au contraire; we have many carnivores.”

While researchers believe this unique approach, as compared to North America, helps – they don’t know if it was the sole reason.

Most European countries have a permanent population of at least one of the four large carnivores. Ony Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg don’t. Just four countries had populations of all four.

Here’s a breakdown of the population by species.

Brown bear – 17,000 across 22 countries.

Eurasian Lynx – 9,000 across 23 countries.

Gray Wolf – 12,000 across 28 countries.

Wolverine – 1,250 across 4 countries.

Only Sweden, Finland and parts of Norway have all four carnivores. That’s because wolverines only live in cold climates.

Image credit: Wikipedia/Aconcagua

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