• Sweden edition
 
Rural Swedes slam EU ban on hunting wolves
Swedish hunters lay out dead wolves. File photo: TT

Rural Swedes slam EU ban on hunting wolves

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."

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
'Wild west' taxi drivers face new rules
Taxis at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport. Photo: Claudio Brescani/TT

'Wild west' taxi drivers face new rules

Stockholm taxis have a reputation for being among the most expensive in the world, but new regulations designed to make costs more transparent have been agreed on by Stockholm's Traffic Committee. READ  

Weather agency rules out white Christmas
Snow covering buildings in Stockholm's Gamla Stan. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Weather agency rules out white Christmas

Swedes hoping for a white Christmas will most likely be disappointed after a global weather agency said that temperatures are unlikely to plummet in December. READ  

Swedish teen pop 'Idol' found dead at home
The late Tristan Björling. Photo: TV4 Press Office

Swedish teen pop 'Idol' found dead at home

The producers of hit Swedish TV show Idol say they are offering support to the family of one this year's contestants, Tristan Björling, who has died. READ  

Sweden most expensive place to send a parcel
A Swedish postbox. Photo: TT

Sweden most expensive place to send a parcel

The price for sending a package via post in Sweden is the highest in the Nordic region but sending a letter remains relatively cheap according to a new report. READ  

Unclear school situation for migrant children
File photo: The Local

Unclear school situation for migrant children

Sweden's National Agency for Education has stated that the current law allowing children of EU citizens the right to a place in school is unclear, as many new arrivals may slip through the net. READ  

Malmö's Champions League bid ended
Juventus striker Carlos Tevez shakes off Malmö's Markus Halsti during the Italian side's victory on November 26th 2014. Photo:Andreas Hillergren/TT

Malmö's Champions League bid ended

The Swedish champions were defeated by the Italian side Juventus 0-2 at home and will need to win their last Champions League match in order to keep their hopes alive of playing in Europe. READ  

Cash for Swedes who saw dying Dad on TV
Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Cash for Swedes who saw dying Dad on TV

Relatives of a man whose final moments appeared in a television programme about a hospital in Sweden have each been awarded 20,000 kronor ($2,700) in compensation, after a court ruled that his privacy had been breached. READ  

Sweden rallies behind women in Ukraine
Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström in Kiev. Photo: Gustav Sjöholm/TT

Sweden rallies behind women in Ukraine

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström is making her first visit to Ukraine, where she has urged leaders to press on with efforts to support women and cut corruption as tensions continue in the east of the country. READ  

The Local's Countdown to Christmas
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Kalmar Castle, Småland is hosting a Christmas market. Photo: Flickr/Simon Green

Five magical Swedish winter markets

Stockholm and Gothenburg may be the main tourist draws when it comes to winter markets in Sweden, but away from the big cities, Swedes do their Christmas shopping in barns, castles and farm shops. Here are The Local's top tips for 2014. READ  

Immigrant graduate jobs on the rise in Sweden
More foreign-born graduates are finding work in Sweden. Photo: Shutterstock

Immigrant graduate jobs on the rise in Sweden

It is getting easier for foreign-born graduates to find a job in Sweden, according to the country's Employment Service, which says it has seen a jump in the percentage of immigrants scoring roles that require a university degree or college education. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Lifestyle
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
National
'Swedish' street dog becomes global celebrity
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to stay stylish in Sweden in November
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Blog updates

26 November

Is Putin trying to buy up Europe’s nationalists? (Globally Local) »

" Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP Political funding is a murky business at the best of times. If a party..." READ »

 

26 November

Not Pants (Blogweiser) »

" The woman who took the picture above was on her first visit to IKEA. She had just..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: November 26th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
National
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
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

796
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
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
If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, we can help.
Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden
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