Swedish hunters to target marauding raccoon dogs

Swedish elk hunters have been encouraged to shoot on sight any raccoon dogs that they may chance across.

Swedish hunters to target marauding raccoon dogs

The Swedish National Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) has supported calls from the Swedish Hunters Association (Svenska Jägareförbundet) to target the animal which is described as a pest and has been compared to the American mink or the Spanish slug.

“This is good, we would rather that it is removed completely from the Swedish environment,” Melanie Josefsson at the agency said.

The chances of a hunter coming across the beast, which resembles the raccoon in appearance but is no relation, are small as the animals are extremely rare in Sweden.

The Swedish authorities have in recent years led a successful fight to keep the raccoon dog population, which is indigenous to China, Korea and Siberian Russia, to a minimum.

“We think that it can be prevented from establishing itself as we have already begun to fight it at an early stage,” Josefsson said.

But a new threat has emerged after over 20 recording sightings of the animal in neighbouring Denmark, with three occasions on record in 2008 alone.

Sweden now fears an amphibian invasion of the pest across the Öresund waterway between Copenhagen and Malmö.

The Swedes have previously taken a less ruthless approach to tackling the problem, employing instead a method of sterilization and tracking.

There are currently ten animals in Sweden carrying a radio transmitter inserted by researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences who are conducting a project on the species.

Hunters have been urged to shoot only those that have not yet been identified.

Once the raccoon dog establishes a population in a country’s flora and fauna it can be very difficult to root out. The animal is a known carrier of tapeworm and rabies and can threaten species of birds.

Swedish animal protection legislation does not cover wild animals and therefore the raccoon dog can be freely hunted. There has however been no formal decision taken to exterminate the species, Lottie Göransson Uhrnell at the agency told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

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Green Party leader: ‘Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament’

Per Bolund, joint leader of Sweden's Green party, spoke for thirteen and a half minutes at Almedalen before he mentioned the environment, climate, or fossil fuels, in a speech that began by dwelling on healthcare, women's rights, and welfare, before returning to the party's core issue.

Green Party leader: 'Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament'

After an introduction by his joint leader Märta Stenevi, Bolund declared that his party was going into the election campaign on a promise “to further strengthen welfare, with more staff and better working conditions in healthcare, and school without profit-making, where the money goes to the pupils and not to dividends for shareholders”. 

Only then did he mention the party’s efforts when in government to “build the world’s first fossil-free welfare state”. 

“We know that if we want welfare to work in the future, we must have an answer to our time’s biggest crisis: the threat to the environment and the climate,” he said.

“We know that there is no welfare on a dead planet. We need to take our society into a new time, where we end our dependency on oil, meet the threat to the climate, and build a better welfare state within nature’s boundaries, what we call a new, green folkhem [people’s home].” 

He presented green policies as something that makes cities more liveable, with the new sommargågator — streets pedestrianised in the summer — showing how much more pleasant a life less dependent on cars might be.  

He then said his party wanted Sweden to invest 100 billion kronor a year on speeding up the green transition, to make Sweden fossil fuel-free by 2030. 

“We talk about the climate threat because it’s humanity’s biggest challenge, our biggest crisis,” he said. “And because we don’t have much time.” 

In the second half of his speech, however, Bolund used more traditional green party rhetoric, accusing the other political parties in Sweden of always putting off necessary green measures, because they do not seem urgent now, like a middle-aged person forgetting to exercise. 

“We know that we need to cut emissions radically if we are even going to have a chance of meeting our climate goal, but for all the other parties there’s always a reason to delay,” he said. 

“We are now seeing the curtain go up on the backlash in climate politics in Sweden. All the parties have now chosen to slash the biofuels blending mandate which means that we reduce emissions from petrol and diesel step for step, so you automatically fill your tank in a greener way. Just the government’s decision to pause the  reduction mandate will increase emissions by a million tonnes next year.” 

The right-wing parties, he warned, were also in this election running a relentless campaign against the green party. 

“The rightwing parties seem to have given up trying to win the election on their own policies,” he said. “Trying to systematically push out of parliament seems to be their way of trying to take power. And they don’t seem above any means. Slander campaigns, lies, and false information have become every day in Swedish right-wing politics.” 

He ended the speech with an upbeat note. 

“A better, more sustainable world is possible. There is a future to long for. If you give us a chance then that future is much closer than you think!”

Read the speech here in Swedish and here in (Google Translated) English.