• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Wolf hunt stand-off raises Swedish tensions

AFP · 15 Feb 2014, 08:29

Published: 15 Feb 2014 08:29 GMT+01:00

"I think we could live with some wolves, but not as many as there are now. They're getting too close to people," Elsa Lund Magnussen told AFP at her small sheep farm and abattoir outside Karlstad in south-central Sweden.

She pointed through the driving snow to a wooded area a stone's throw from her traditional red wooden house and sheds.

"A wolf killed a moose calf just over there a week ago," she said, shaking her head.

"When you know a wolf can turn up on your land anytime, it changes your whole quality of life. You don't dare let your dogs out in the yard ... and people say you need to take a rifle when you walk in the forest!"

Wolf hunting is a sensitive issue in Sweden, as in other European countries where the carnivores were re-introduced in recent decades and enjoy protected status under EU conservation laws. The European Commission threatened the Nordic country with legal action in 2013 over a planned cull, later stopped by a Stockholm court.

Then the wolf conflict worsened in January when the court blocked another planned cull of 30 wolves following an appeal by environmental groups on the grounds that it violated EU law. Now only strictly limited "protective hunts" are allowed in the event of wolves killing livestock or posing a clear threat.

The ruling came just a month after the government unveiled a new wildlife policy allowing the wolf population to be culled down to 270 from the current level of about 400.

"Sweden has never had so many large predators as now," Environment Minister Lena Ek said at the launch of the report, which said the country had a viable wolf population that needed curbing to "take into account people who live and work in areas with a concentration of predators." 

Environmentalists rejected that claim, calling it a political decision taken on shaky scientific grounds.

Their legal victory has angered many small farmers like Lund Magnussen, who point to rising numbers of sheep attacked by wolves across the country -- up from 292 in 2008 to 411 in 2012.

"I'm not a wolf hater, but if my animals are attacked by wolves I will lose a lot of money and it could put me out of business," she said, adding that totally fencing off wolves is impossible and far too costly.

Another group who say they are paying too high a price for protecting wolves are Sweden's hunters -- about 500 of whom live in this part of Värmland  county, including Gunnar Glöersen, who organises the local hunt outside Karlstad.

"Of course wolves have to eat too, but the question is how much?" he asked.

Glöersen-- who is also the national hunters' association spokesman on predators -- said wolves are decimating game stocks and injuring hunting dogs,which are essential for tracking moose over large areas.

"There's a limit to how much you can torment people. Dead wolves are going to start showing up," he said with a shrug.

"If democratic rules drawn up by parliament are not applied I'm convinced that illegal hunting will explode."

And there are some indications that that has already begun, with reports of a growing number of wolves with new mates -- an indication that an existing mate was killed.

Jan Bergstam, a burly environmental activist, believes hunters and farmers are exaggerating the wolf threat to get subsidies and because they are angry that the predators get in the way of hunting with dogs.

He said hunts should be limited to a few cases where wolves repeatedly attack livestock or leave too few moose for hunters.

"We've been helping farmers set up fences, and not one with fencing has had their animals attacked by wolves. It's good we stopped the licensed hunt. If we don't want wolves to be endangered they need a chance to spread around Sweden," said Bergstam. 

Bergstam says threats of an anti-wolf revolt are not new but they need to be taken seriously.

Story continues below…

"They encourage people to go out and shoot as many wolves as they want. This lobby group (hunters) has pumped politicians full of ideas about the countryside on the brink of collapse -- and it's not true," he said. 

Resolving the legal dilemma may take years, and many expect it to end up in the European Court of Justice.

The European Commission may also be reluctant to reopen discussions on a hard-won directive from 1992 that protects more than 1,000 animal and plant species across the continent.

But the longer the delay, the more frustration and anger will grow in the Swedish countryside.

"The worst thing is the feeling of powerlessness -- that we can't seem to get any sensible decisions," said farmer Lund Magnussen.

"While the legal process is going on, I want to continue to be able to live and run my business here ... I won't go out and shoot wolves and put them on the parliament's doorstep, but I will defend my animals."

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swedish economy beating European giants in 2016
New numbers from Statistics Sweden paint a positive picture. Photo: Micke Larsson/TT

Sweden's economy is leaving the likes of Germany and Great Britain in its wake, figures suggest.

Video
Meet Dynamite Erik, a Swede who blows things up for fun
Who doesn't want to blow up a computer? Photo: Erik Johansson

The Local talks to a Swedish farmer who has turned his hobby of blowing things up into a YouTube sensation.

Swedish police to trial use of taser guns
A file photo of a Swedish police officer. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The weapons are designed to incapacitate assailants through an electrical current.

Swedish woman denied job because of her head scarf
Gothenburg resident Ruya El Hattawi, who says she was denied a job because of her veil. Photo: Private

Delight over tying down a summer job soon gave way to shock when the offer was withdrawn.

Fans threatening boycott of Johnny Depp's Stockholm gig
Johnny Depp and the Hollywood Vampires performing at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Photo: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

But others were queuing outside on Monday morning.

Good news: The Swedish summer has returned
It could be time for that first swim of the year in Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Time to put away those waterproofs and bring out the bathing suits once more.

Zlatan's sore calf forces him to sit out Sweden's friendly
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the Sweden team's training camp. Photo: Erik Nylander/TT

So does that mean Slovenia will beat Sweden on Monday?

'Sweden would not be able to defend Gotland'
File photo of a military exercise. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

Sweden would not be able to make a stand if it came to an invasion of the Baltic Sea island by foreign forces, one expert has said.

My Swedish Career
'Sweden is the ideal place for my business'
Emilie Terstegge. Photo: Sandra Jolly Photography.

Why Sweden's fitness craze and generous family benefits helped this Dutch entrepreneur launch her startup for mums.

Police shoot knife man in central Stockholm
Police technicians spent the rest of Saturday night combing the square for clues. Photo: TT

A knife-wielding man was shot by police officers in Stockholm’s Sergel Square after he attacked officers.

Sponsored Article
'Only soft power can defeat radicalism'
Gallery
People-watching: May 27th-29th
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
National
First migrants make it from Denmark to Sweden on foot
Gallery
The best, cutest and funniest snaps from Prince Oscar's christening
Blog updates

27 May

Editor’s blog, May 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, Would you spend a day doing manual labour in high heels? That’s what Swedish…" READ »

 

17 May

What about “att”? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It often seems like the small words are the ones that cause the most confusion.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Travel
Is this town the best place in Sweden?
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Gallery
People-watching: May 25th
Society
WATCH: Why Swedish handyman wore pink high heels for feminism
Sport
LIST: Top-ten ridiculous things Zlatan has compared himself to
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
Business & Money
Why Swedes don't want the euro
Sponsored Article
Food, fun, and reliable sun: Summer in Dubrovnik
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vika, Falun
National
Is this the most Swedish tattoo ever?
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th-22nd
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
National
How to really annoy a Swede abroad
National
How this war veteran is warming hearts in Sweden
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
Gallery
People-watching: May 18th
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
National
How this Swede's viral ad totally nailed Stockholm's housing crisis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
Property of the week: Vasastaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Lifestyle
The best Swedish cities for dating
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
People-watching: May 13th-15th
Culture
BLOG: Eurovision as it happened
National
Why a 116-year-old Swede isn't the world's oldest woman
National
Youth unemployment falls in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 11th
Gallery
People-watching: May 6th-8th
3,315
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se