• Sweden's news in English
 
Wolf hunt stand-off raises Swedish tensions

Wolf hunt stand-off raises Swedish tensions

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.

"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
Karlskrona child murder
Uncle charged with 8-year-old's death
The Blekinge District Court. Photo: TT

Uncle charged with 8-year-old's death

A man and a woman have been formally charged for fatally beating an 8-year-old girl - a child murder case that has dominated the headlines in Sweden all year. READ  

Sweden and Romania to discuss begging surge
A Roma beggar in Umeå last week. Photo: The Local

Sweden and Romania to discuss begging surge

Romania's Social Affairs and Labour Minister Rovana Plumb has accepted an invitation to Stockholm in January to discuss the rising number of Roma people begging in Sweden's major towns and cities. READ  

The Local List
Eight things to do when it gets dark in Umeå
The sun sets early in Umeå, but luckily there is still plenty to do. Photo: Umeå2014

Eight things to do when it gets dark in Umeå

After a recent trip to the wild north, The Local's Oliver Gee recommends eight things to do in Umeå when the sun isn't shining. Which at this time of the year, is almost all day. READ  

SAS plane 'near miss' fears blamed on weed
Mikhail Vanin, Russia's ambassador in Copenhagen. Photo: TT

SAS plane 'near miss' fears blamed on weed

Russia's ambassador to Denmark has made light of Swedish concerns over a Russian military jet's alleged near-miss with a passenger plane, suggesting Swedish authorities may have smoked too much cannabis. READ  

Video: Swedish sounds
Swedes get their mouths round tongue twisters
Can you get your tongue around these tongue twisters? Photo: Shutterstock.

Swedes get their mouths round tongue twisters

'Tis the season for some silly news stories. The Local took to the streets of Stockholm to see how well people could pronounce some of the nation's top tongue twisters. READ  

Interview
'Swedes should be proud': Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates talks to The Local. Photo: TT

'Swedes should be proud': Melinda Gates

The Local's blogger Natalia Brzezinski talks to American philanthropist Melinda Gates about why Swedes should be proud of their country, this year's Nobel Prizes and the importance of women having a strong voice. READ  

Child grills Swedish PM on daylight savings
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

Child grills Swedish PM on daylight savings

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven made headlines on Wednesday after responding to a 7-year-old's letter which queried the need for daylight savings' time in Sweden. READ  

Swedish free schools sent profits to Cyprus
A beach in Cyprus. Photo: TT

Swedish free schools sent profits to Cyprus

Two entrepreneurs behind a major Swedish free school chain avoided paying taxes by moving their profits to Cyprus, it has emerged. READ  

Bird flu suspected in Scandinavian seal deaths
Around 3,000 seals have died off the coast of Denmark and Sweden. Photo: Shutterstock.

Bird flu suspected in Scandinavian seal deaths

An outbreak of bird flu has likely killed about 3,000 seals off the coast of Sweden and Denmark this year, Swedish authorities have announced, raising the alarm a month after Germany. READ  

Comfort eating craze in Sweden's capital
The hot dog is a popular Swedish snack. Photo: TT

Comfort eating craze in Sweden's capital

More than one in ten people living in Stockholm have admitted to comfort eating, amid fears of growing obesity and stress in the city. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Estelle through the years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Society
Why are there so many 100-year-olds in one Swedish town?
Society
Is it time to better celebrate Sweden's diverse identity?
Gallery
Property of the week: Huddinge
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Blog updates

17 December

An Exclusive Interview with Melinda Gates (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"This week Nobel peace Prize Winner Kailash Satyarthi urged the world to “globalize compassion”, as he..." READ »

 

14 December

A lot to learn (Blogweiser) »

" I went to the new Starbucks at the swanky Stureplan intersection in central Stockholm. They have a lot..." READ »

 
 
 
National
CATCH UP: Russian plane in Baltic near-miss drama
Lifestyle
How my compass drew me to Sweden
National
The man whose memory you need to remember
Gallery
People-watching: December 13th - 14th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
Politics
'Our party will stand alone': Stefan Löfven
Society
The Local chats to Ruben Östlund, director of Golden Globe nominated Force Majeure
Lifestyle
Ten things to know before a Swedish party
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: December 12th to 19th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The 2014 Nobel Banquet
National
The Local's guide to the Nobel Prizes 2014
Education
Introducing... Education in Stockholm
Society
The Swedish Christmas market with a twist
Lifestyle
Why do so many Swedes have tattoos?
Society
Get 20% off Swedish Christmas decorations
National
Dewani family: We only heard half the story
Business & Money
Business in Stockholm: 'efficiency is money'
Gallery
Property of the week: Östermalm
National
Meet the Swedes hosting festive feasts for 'lonely' guests
Gallery
TIMELINE: Swedish honeymoon killing murder trial
Gallery
People-watching: December 7th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: What's it like to fly planes in Sweden?
National
Submarine hunters 'robbed' of reward cash
National
The Local's Countdown to Christmas
National
'Dangerous' USB charger recalled in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King and Queen wrap up France tour
National
Analysis: Should Snowden get asylum in Sweden?
National
Swedish schoolboy in female saint role row
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's political crisis unfolds
Gallery
People-watching: December 3rd
National
What happened to Sweden's ice bucket cash?
Lifestyle
Top Swedish songs of the month
National
Why a child footballer has a huge legal bill
Lifestyle
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
National
What's inside a Swedish hipster winter market?
Gallery
In Pictures: Gävle's Christmas goat is revealed
Lifestyle
Meet the foreign students scrubbing their way to success
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
National
Who's playing at Sweden's biggest music festival?
National
How Swedish navy lovers got exposed by Russians
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

767
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
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options