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Criticism soars as Sweden's wolf hunt ends

AFP · 7 Jan 2010, 09:11

Published: 07 Jan 2010 09:11 GMT+01:00

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The final two wolves of the quota were killed in central Sweden on Tuesday, bringing to an end the first wolf hunt since 1964 as a number of hunters reported receiving anonymous death threats.

Parliament decided in October to limit the country's wolf population to 210 animals for the next five years.

The cull was meant to run between January 2 and February 15, but hunters killed 20 wolves on the first day, sparking the ire of animal rights activists and local officials.

"I think the hunt was carried out very quickly, there were too many kills all at once," said Stig-Åke Svenson, head of the local branch of the environmental agency in the central Dalarna region where hunters killed 10 wolves instead of the nine allotted to the region.

"And across the entire country, seven wolves were first wounded before they were killed, and that's a very high number. These are problems that need to be investigated ahead of a possible wolf hunt next year," he told AFP.

Some 12,000 hunters had been granted permits to take part in the hunt, a number environmentalists said was out of proportion to the total of 27 authorised kills in five central regions.

They also criticised the lack of coordination between the regions.

"The hunt was totally out of control, the quota was even exceeded in Dalarna, and thousands of hunters were allowed to take part in the kill," lamented Mikael Karlsson, the head of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) who has filed a complaint against Sweden with the European Commission.

The SNCC claimed the hunt violated European Union legislation on species and habitats.

"This hunt was aimed at pleasing the loudmouthed hunters" who have been calling for a wolf hunt for years, Karlsson said.

But Torbjörn Lövbom of the Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management said the criticism was "exaggerated".

"The hunt went well for the most part, apart from the one wolf too many that was killed in Dalarna. The cull was completed quickly because the snow made it easier for us," he said.

A fresh snowfall makes it easier for hunters to follow the animal's tracks.

Several hunters have filed police complaints after receiving anonymous death threats, the Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management said.

The Swedish government has also been the target of heavy criticism, in particular Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren whose image as a nature lover has taken a blow.

"The hunt turns to Carlgren," headlined an editorial in tabloid Aftonbladet, the country's most widely read newspaper.

The minister "says the hunt will put an end to the inbreeding in the Swedish wolf population ... That's of course nonsense," it said.

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Wolves had virtually disappeared from Sweden in the 1970s. They have thrived since being reintroduced but suffer from the effects of inbreeding because they all descend from the same handful of animals that were introduced.

The government plans to release some 20 new wolves into the wild by 2014 to broaden their gene pool and improve their health.

"If the environment minister's real aim was to combat the wolves' heart, back and kidney problems then the hunt would have been organised differently," the paper wrote.

Parliament's decision to allow the wolf hunt was aimed at increasing public acceptance of the predators.

The animal's presence is controversial in the country as domestic and farm animals are increasingly attacked by wolves, which have been sighted recently near residential areas, including near the capital Stockholm.

There were between 182 and 217 wolves in Sweden last winter, the Environmental Protection Agency said, noting that new litters had been born since then.

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Your comments about this article

11:43 January 7, 2010 by Alannah
Surely there is room for more than 210 wolves in a country as large as Sweden which only has around 9 million people. Very sad that these beautiful animals had to be massacred instead of finding homes for them in zoos or wildlife parks. Probably a rushed decision because someone in the administration office wanted to take a vacation and was too lazy to seek an alternative means of controlling the population than murdering them.
12:07 January 7, 2010 by HALE
There seem to be alot of arguements about the current wolves in Sweden are all related from 3 original wolves, therefore they have to cull.

Do the politicians decide to cull the royal families of europe because they are all related?????

I am completely culling the wolves at least.
12:15 January 7, 2010 by karex
For once I agree with Aftonbladet: culling due to inbreeding is bull, otherwise it would have been done in a completely different way: they must be caught, sedated, tested, marked and then set loose again so the hunters know which animals to take down and not risk eliminating a healthy one.

I have read somewhere that as recent as last century the wolf population in Sweden was estimated at half a million individuals. So there is MUCH more room for more than just 200 individuals. Perhaps not half a million, but at least a few thousand.
12:18 January 7, 2010 by moaca
I keep myself updated online by watching rapport and reading the newspapers. I have placed several comments on the local with regards to this issue, and here is another one.

I am glad to see the majority of people are actually against this culling. I als found out form the new yesterday that there was a wolf pair killed that still had cubs? This is a clear misjudgement of which animals to take out. It seems to me that firstly to many people got involved in this hunt. Secondly, it seems to me that there was no plan to ensure which individuals to take out, such as one that has shown signes of sickness or ill health? Thirdly, I wonder if the wildlife / forestry department has actually mapped the population in a way that they know exactly which families are living in certain area's. As we are only speaking of a couple of hundred wolves, I would imagine that the forestry dept, or whoever deals with the wolves, had been monitored for the past 40 years? This way that department would know which groups should be eligible for culling. But I still can not see the justification for the culling.

I would love to get hold of the statistics for the amount of livestock being killed by wolves. So far I cannot find this online. Also, are we not sharing the wolves with Norway? I thought they were roaming between the borders, so I wonder what the Norwegians make of this.

With regards to threatening the hunter, that is out of order. They were given permits and you cannot blame them. Better to vent your anger at the government who authorised this. But then again, you are dealing with bureacrats that have to make decisions that are beyond their brain capacity. They probably do not hunt themselves and whoever managed to put this on the agenda was able to convince the government it was necessary. So let me guess, who would benefit most? Why killing them when we actually could have swopped individuals against other individuals in other countries to prevent inbreeding? I mean, isnt the governments whole incentive to try and limit inbreads? Why is there no coooperation with other countries who perhaps would love to swop animals in order to keep their stock healthy.

Or am I thinking to logically now?
12:40 January 7, 2010 by zircon
27 Are killed. How many wolves are now left in Sweden?
14:30 January 7, 2010 by Kronaboy
Contrary to Alannah I think I would rather see these beautiful animals dead than rotting in a zoo; as a ardent hunter I have to confess I see no reason for the senses killing of these animals.
17:18 January 7, 2010 by eddie123
why the hunt? do swedes eat wolves? they sure look like dogs. Do you also eat dogs?
19:30 January 7, 2010 by Henckel
Read J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" to see what he thought of wolves.
20:47 January 7, 2010 by zircon
Scandinavian children story: wolf in the woods changed from eating all the animals to a physician of healing the animals.In other words...
02:05 January 8, 2010 by GLO
This was NUTS....
11:19 January 8, 2010 by Stephen Mills
Excellent article but I have to challenge your assertion that wolves were reintroduced in Sweden. The first wolf tracked into Varmland was a male in 1981. He was joined by a female late in 1982 and they bred in 1983. The scientists who followed them believed they had come down from Northern Sweden where breeding had occurred in the late 1970s after wolves crossed from Finland. That expansion was traced back to an irruption in Soviet Karelia which saw wolf crossings from there increase 6-fold. The entire current wolf population in southern Sweden is thought to derive from that original "Varmland" pair and one other male who is believed to have crossed from Finland in 1991/2. There is clear genetic evidence of this - hence the low variability of the population. There is absolutely no evidence that any wolves were ever deliberately introduced.
18:09 January 8, 2010 by CatGirl
I am totally against Swedish hunters killing wolves here in Sweden. We will probably have to protest and complain to these people until they get sick of it to force them to really think about what they are doing.

Does anyone know of the website or the email of the organization we can write too?

I think its tragic that a mated pair were killed and now the cubs will probably starve to death.

Instead of killing these wolves why doesn't Sweden offer them to other countries that need to increase their populations of wolves throughout Europe.
23:36 January 8, 2010 by Guarauno
I wonder if Sweden is against Norway´s whales hunting,guess it is not
18:52 January 9, 2010 by volvoman9
I live in the center of hunting country in the U.S. I am not a hunter as I see no reason to senselessly subject another creature to unimaginable pain to satisfy my latent blood lust. I am not a vegan nor am I a "tree hugger". I am , however perplexed with man's fascination with destruction. Even more so by the ludicrous notion that hunting or fishing is a 'sport'. This would be akin to playing a game of football by ones self and then declaring yourself the winner to a unaware opponent. How can one call it 'sport' when the odds are so clearly in the hunter's favor.

Don't get me wrong; I tried it ( right of passage or male bonding) but it all struck me as such a colossal waste of time and life. Hunters would gain more respect from non-hunters if they just admitted the reasoning for this activity. They just like to kill things. The reason for this urge evades me and has, no doubt, been the fodder for much psychological musing.

If you want to call it sport then limit yourselves to trading battle with other similarly armed and equipped human beings. We call this war but it usually has some sort of religious underpinning.

The "culling" of poorly managed predators should, I feel, be left to the government as we can see that we upset the balance of nature already by our misguided attempt to "hunt" them. We will never be able to completely manage nature and to attempt to is inane. Why not focus our efforts on learning to live "with" nature instead. Culling exercises are, I agree, simply meant to assuage the loudest voices in any community and they will find any excuse to justify this behavior.

I believe I read here that one of the justifications for this hunt was that some pets were being killed. I have lost countless cats to local predators where I live. Sad but truly natural. Nothing big enough to kill my dog though... yet. As for inbreeding; who's fault would that be then?

There is an old adage in Wyoming.. "There is nothing to do in Wyoming but hunt and f@ck." The question becomes... "So what do you hunt?" The answer... " Something to f@ck.
06:44 January 12, 2010 by lingonberrie
There is no justification for murdering wolves.

The hunters who flooded into the woods to do this sick deed might find themselves on the other end of a weapon when the so-called European stability goes sour again. Judging by the hunters, war is a natural part of their and humans lives.

However, culling the members of Parliment that sanctioned this murder sounds like a good idea to me.
07:18 January 12, 2010 by Borilla
If this were anything other than a politically sponsored attempt to curry votes from "hunters", it would have been done in a competent and professional manner. Aside from the fact that the numbers and the rationale do not make sense, the approach was ridiculous. That is, unless you sit in parliment and some of your beer drinking friends want to "hunt wolves". The sensible approach would be to do as is done in other civilized societies. IF (a very big if) the culling is needed, send out a few knowledgeable professionals to do it. Don't send out 22,000 weekend warriors shooting at everything that moves, including wolves with cubs. Meanwhile, we find wolves that "escaped" from a wildlife refuge being gunned down without a second thought. Were they inbred also? Or, was it just another chance to shoot something. If you want to "hunt", join the army and go to Afghanistan. Put some real adventure in your life.
20:06 January 12, 2010 by Flygger
I cannot see any justification for hunters killing these animals.

I rather think they are so pathetic and see themselves as macho for using big guns against them.

If they are so brave why not kill them with their bare hands instead of hiding away, unseen with a weapon that gives an unfair advantage over an animal that only has teeth to defend itself.

Send these heroes to Afghanistan if they like to kill so much.

In fact send them up against a moose that is quite tired and they will positively pass bricks inside their pants !!

No takers from them ?? That was to be expected from these frilly knicker wearing brigade types.. Total bunch of stains the lot of them !!!

Nuff said.
21:05 January 12, 2010 by entry
Wolf culls exist not only to ensure the genetic viability of the wolves but also to minimize the economic and emotional damage inflicted by wolves through attacks on livestock(sheep, cows, horses, dogs, etc) suffered in rural communities.

The outrage against wolf culls will only subside when packs of wolves are humanely captured in rural areas and released in urban parks where they can entertain themselves outside of daycare centers while feeding on pets, wild rabbits & squirrels. In doing so, city dwellers will fully appreciate the circumstances their rural neighbors face as wolf populations grow in number and habituate themselves to Swedish farms & rural residential communities.
07:52 January 15, 2010 by geronimoIII
I have a wolf for a pet. Actually he is one third wolf. We also have a dog and these two distant cousins get on quite famouslly. Cannot say the same for some people I am afraid. I have learned much from our wolf...the strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf. My heart goes out to the slaughtered...as always.
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