As Europeans flock to urban centers, wildlife reclaim the countryside

Wild boars on the outskirts of Berlin. Bears scaring schoolkids in Austria. New summer blockbuster about a wildlife invasion? Nope, it’s Europe in the 21st century. Animals long considered scarce are reappearing in the countryside as folks across the continent abandon rural villages for cities, leaving behind “old mines and quarries” and “farmland that can no longer be profitably harvested,” says one researcher. Wolves, which disappeared from Germany in the mid-1800s, now range over abandoned Soviet military reservations in the eastern Saxony region, perhaps having migrated from Poland’s Carpathian Mountains. Wildcats and osprey are also being seen in the Teutonic east. And wild critters could reclaim even more territory, as, based on current birth rates, Europe’s overall human population is expected to drop about 41 million by 2030. Who knows — by then a good chunk of the continent could have become a de facto nature preserve.