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Court axes Sweden's annual wolf hunt again

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18:01 CET+01:00
Sweden's annual wolf hunt, which was planned to kick off in early February, was called off by Stockholm's Administrative Court on Wednesday.
"This is good, very good. We are very happy with the court's decision," Mikael Karlsson from the Swedish Society for Natural Conservation (SNCC) told the TT news agency.
 
"We counted on it turning out this way, as the decision to stop last year's hunt is still being reviewed by the courts."
 
The Swedish government had given the green light for the hunt, arguing that the wolf population had increased and that licensed hunts were needed to protect livestock. But the hunt was appealed by Swedish environmental groups late last year, and on Wednesday, the Stockholm court put a stop to the planned 2014 hunt.
 
The hunts are organized in an attempt to cull wolf numbers, and were scheduled for February 1st this year, with a target of culling 30 wolves. It would have been the first licensed wolf hunt since 2011, but now marks the third season to get the chop on appeal.
 
Bo Sköld, secretary general of the Swedish Hunting Association (Svenska jägareförbundet), called Wednesday's ruling a disaster for Swedes who live in rural areas and encounter wolves on a daily basis.
 
"We've had three parliamentary decisions on the wolf hunt: 2001, 2009, and 2013. It's clear that the democratic system's ability to manage this issue doesn't work and that means people lose faith in it," he told TT.
 
Environmental Minister Lena Ek refused to comment on the matter, with her spokesman explaining that she does not comment on ongoing court cases.

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In the past, the European Commission has threatened Sweden with legal action over the licensed hunts.
 
Last autumn, the government put forward a bill on managing predators that proposed a population of 170 to 270 wolves was sufficient for a health wolf pack. Today there are an estimated 400 wolves in Sweden.

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