• 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
Police resources back to normal after terror threat
The headquarters where Säpo, Sweden's security police is based. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Swedish police say they're no longer deploying extra resources following a reported terror threat in the run-up to Eurovision.

Why this fearless woman is the talk of Sweden
Photo: David Lagerlöf/Expo/TT

Swedes are calling this picture an instant icon.

Opinion
'Swedes, please give your sperm a purpose'
File picture of an embryo. Photo: Richard Drew/AP

Swedish men should stop jerking off in public places and start donating sperm to help single women have babies, argues Stockholm-based writer Matilda Karlsson.

Petrol firm tries to woo women to pumps with new name
A Statoil station in Enköping. Photo: Fredrik Strandberg/TT

A Statoil petrol station in Stockholm today becomes the first in Europe to get a makeover.

Half of Swedes support law banning begging
A man begs for money on Hamngatan in central Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Only one political party in Sweden wants a ban on begging, but half the population shares their view, a new survey shows.

Presented by Stockholm University
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
Photo: Stockholm University

Thousands of outstanding researchers from across the globe have chosen to make Stockholm University their home and hub. What is it that attracts them? We asked.

Stockholm taxi drivers 'help clients find prostitutes'
A Taxi Stockholm car driving in the capital. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Drivers from Stockholm’s biggest taxi firm are suspected of helping fuel the sex trade despite the purchase of sex being illegal in Sweden.

Eurovision 2016
Eurovision set for US as gay channel announces live show
Eurovision flags flying in Stockholm this week. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Now you can watch Eurovision in the US too.

'Isis' kids get taken into care in central Sweden
File picture of children in the middle east. Photo: AP /Manu Brabo

Three siblings authorities feared could be forced to go abroad to get married or fight alongside extremists have been taken into care in central Sweden.

Eurovision 2016
Palestine envoy angry at 'insulting' flag ban
The Palestinian flag (left) was included on the same banned list as that of Islamic State (right)

The Palestinian Ambassador to Sweden has waded into the row over a Eurovision ban on the Palestinian flag calling it "insulting" and "a big mistake".

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: Stockholm's secret dating scene
National
Sweden set for sunny weekend
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vollsjö, Sjöbo
Features
How to be a cool Swede during a hot summer
Blog updates

29 April

Editor’s blog, April 29th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Relations between Sweden and Russia went from slightly strained to full-on James Bond this…" READ »

 

18 April

A day as a guard (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Life as an Ambassador. Driven around in the Jaguar. Visits all planned so you go straight…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Kista: The best office space in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: April 29th - May 1st
Sponsored Article
'Swedes must realize only soft power can defeat radicalism'
Analysis & Opinion
Why Sweden's fretting about Brexit
National
INTERVIEW: Swedish police officer 'beat me up and used racial slurs'
Gallery
People-watching: April 27th
Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
National
Öresund bridge border checks net record number of drink drivers
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
National
Swedes bid farewell to iconic Volvo
Gallery
Property of the week: Enköping
Sponsored Article
Why international researchers love to call Malmö home
Gallery
People-watching: April 22nd-24th
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
Politics
Could Brits in Europe stop Brexit?
National
The first official picture of Sweden's new royal Prince Alexander
Sponsored Article
‘Life in Stockholm’s suburbs is better than people realize’
National
Sweden's Sami reindeer still live in the shadow of Chernobyl
Sponsored Article
'I may work at a Swedish company, but we’re global'
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 20th
Sponsored Article
'A sustainable Sweden must embrace diversity'
National
Why was a Nazi flag hoisted in a Swedish town on Hitler's birthday?
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
National
How did Sweden's deputy PM get in trouble over New York comments?
Sponsored Article
Sigtunaskolan: 'The best of what Sweden has to offer'
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 16th-17th
Sponsored Article
'I may work at a Swedish company, but we’re global'
Culture
Sweden finally axes historic dancing ban
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: Stockholm's secret dating scene
International
Have you phoned Sweden yet?
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: April 13th
National
Is booze going up in Sweden?
National
How Sweden's fake 'smombie' traffic sign is being used for real
3,289
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