• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Rural Swedes slam EU ban on hunting wolves

AFP · 24 Feb 2014, 15:51

Published: 24 Feb 2014 15:51 GMT+01:00

Farmers and hunters in Sweden are crying foul over a wolf hunt ban that they say threatens their way of life and may lead to civil disobedience.

"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 house and sheds.

"A wolf killed an elk 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 organizes 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 elk 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 elk for hunters.

"We've been helping farmers set up fences, and not one with fencing has had their animals attacked by wolves," he said. "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."

Story continues below…

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," he said. "This lobby group (hunters) has pumped politicians full of ideas about the countryside on the brink of collapse -- and it's not true."

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 PM shakes up cabinet in key reshuffle

Will this turn a page on weeks of scandals for Sweden's coalition?

Sweden sees dramatic rise in syphilis cases
New figures show a significant increase in Swedish syphilis cases. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Syphilis is on the increase in Sweden, with the number of new cases more than tripling in some parts of the country.

Why Sweden's teachers have no time for their students
A Swedish classroom. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Teachers in Sweden are drowning in paperwork and have insufficient time to properly plan lessons, a new report suggests.

The Local List
Ten ridiculous things Zlatan has compared himself to
Thinking about that time he compared himself to Rambo? Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Is it a Ferrari? Is it a shark? No, it's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Foreigners in Sweden still more likely to be unemployed
A grim outlook is predicted for foreigners in Sweden. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Unemployment is falling among native Swedes, but foreign-born citizens are struggling to keep pace.

'Help! My name is Jihad'
Jihad Eshmawi. Photo: Private

My name doesn’t make life easy for me, Jihad Eshmawi tells us.

Why fewer Swedes are using condoms in 2016
Photo: Robert Henriksson / SvD / TT

Younger Swedes are better at protecting themselves than their older compatriots.

Swedish economic growth 'best in Nordics'
A new report says Sweden has the best growth prospects of the Nordics. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden's economy is out-pacing its Nordic rivals, but high levels of household debt are still a problem.

IN PICTURES: 8 of Sweden’s wondrous national parks
Vadvetjåkka is Sweden's northernmost national park. Photo: Peter Rosén/Rosénmedia

It’s National Parks Day in Sweden. Who knew? A perfect opportunity surely to take a closer look at some of the country’s most amazing natural wonders…

Why Swedish football is introducing a green card
Swedish referees could soon be reaching for a green card. Photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT

You’ve heard of the red and yellow cards, but how about the green card?

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Business & Money
Why Swedes don't want the euro
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vika, Falun
National
Is this the most Swedish tattoo ever?
Blog updates

20 May

Editor’s blog, May 20th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Do not mention Abba! Or cuckoo clocks! Our most read article this week was…" 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
Food, fun, and reliable sun: Summer in Dubrovnik
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th-22nd
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
National
How to really annoy a Swede abroad
National
How this war veteran is warming hearts in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: May 18th
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
National
How this Swede's viral ad totally nailed Stockholm's housing crisis
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Gallery
Property of the week: Vasastaden, Gothenburg
Lifestyle
The best Swedish cities for dating
Sponsored Article
'Only soft power can defeat radicalism'
Gallery
People-watching: May 13th-15th
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
Culture
BLOG: Eurovision as it happened
National
Why a 116-year-old Swede isn't the world's oldest woman
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
National
Youth unemployment falls in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: May 11th
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Gallery
People-watching: May 6th-8th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
Politics
Why Sweden's Greens are in free fall
National
Can these cartoon Swedes help foreigners blend in?
National
Why this fearless woman is the talk of Sweden
National
Sweden set for sunny weekend
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vollsjö, Sjöbo
Features
How to be a cool Swede during a hot summer
Gallery
People-watching: April 29th - May 1st
3,282
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