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Higher wolf cull likely next year: expert

TT/The Local · 17 Jan 2010, 12:27

Published: 15 Jan 2010 12:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Jan 2010 12:27 GMT+01:00

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The observation was made by Olof Liberg, research manager at Grimsö Wildlife Research Station in western Sweden.

"I’m not happy about the parliamentary decision to freeze the wolf population at 210 and would prefer to see the ceiling raised significantly," he said.

“But if that’s the price we need to pay to push though the most important aspect, namely a genetic augmentation, while also reducing human conflicts, […] then I’m prepared to pay it."

Liberg supports the Environmental Protection Agency's recommendation to set the cull at a cautious 27 wolves, but warns that around 50 animals will need to be killed in 2011 if the ceiling level is maintained and the current rate of estimated growth in the wolf population prevails.

He stresses however that the government's pledge to bring in genetically healthy wolves to strengthen the pack is key to the success of the scheme.

Recently 27 wolves were liquidated in a nationwide hunt. They had been described by the government as “genetically degraded” because of inbreeding. Thousands of hunters participated in the first cull in 45 years – heavily criticized by animal rights activists and some local officials.

A formal protest to the European Commission is being prepared by the Swedish branch of the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental organizations.

About 12,000 hunters are licensed to cull wolves–and around 4,500 participated in the recent hunt, according to the powerful Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management (Svenska Jägareförbundet), with some 200,000 members.

A study conducted by the Zoological Institute at Gothenburg University surveyed 1,751 people on their attitudes to protection hunts. Only 30 percent of Swedes expressed support for the wolf hunt.

In a debate article in Dagens Nyheter, zoologist Anders Bjärvall suggests an alternative and proposes that wolf pups should be put down during the spring.

Bjärvall argues it would limit the number of animals left injured from shot wounds and reduce the risk that adult parent wolves are killed.

Story continues below…

”As we saw recently at Skåne zoo, when the leading female of the flock was shot the rest became too unmanageable,” he said. “The zoo felt they have no choice but to put every animal down.”

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:49 January 15, 2010 by engagebrain
200 hundred wolves and 9.4 millon human in Europe's third largst country.

It would be worth establishing where and how the target wolf population was set, it seems ato bean absurdly low number.

Perhaps we are culling the wrong species.
14:23 January 15, 2010 by jose_s
i'm guessing this expert was out in the woods but did not get a shot at one and wants another go at it. next time he might get in a shot or two.
16:48 January 15, 2010 by Twiceshy
'More experts should have been slain': wolf

I agree with the wolf :P
17:24 January 15, 2010 by entry
The wolves should be humanely trapped and released in urban parks throughout Sweden where they cannot cause economic losses by attacking livestock, horses and work dogs. There are bunnies to burn in places like Stockholm for the wolves to eat and if the wolves attack pets, at least there will not be an economic impact. The wolves will be among the brilliant people that enjoy the wolf's pinnacle role in the food chain regardless of the consequences.

"Stockholm's bunnies burned to keep Swedes warm"

17:36 January 15, 2010 by Redbee
It seems the general public have no rights concerning animal welfare considering 30 percent disaprove of the wolf cull. Olof Liberg must be a cold fish who unfortunatelly has a plum position in this so-called animal research station ,they do pck them dont they. Through the ages the wolf has been maligned and victimized through ignorance and superstition . It's humans who are to be feared owing to the destruction of the earths resources through over population and greed .
17:36 January 15, 2010 by Tennin
Oh my god! 210 wolves for all of Sweden!?! What brain dead experts do they have? Save the refugees and help other countries is great, but saving their own endangered animals, oh no they can't do that. We gotta commit genocide on the poor wolves who are barely coming back to decent levels.

I'm sure much more animals die from the cold than from wolves here in Sweden.
18:46 January 15, 2010 by Twiceshy
entry I'm not sure whether your post is supposed to be a strawman or a red herring, either way it seems pretty stupid.
19:15 January 15, 2010 by entry
No twiceshy, what is stupid are the pathetic misinformed and emotional outbursts that have been posted on the various threads in this news forum regarding the wolf cull.

The wolves are not endangered.

The wolves cause massive damage.

The wolves here in Scandinavia are genetically impaired and inaction by wildlife management is the second greatest threat to a healthy wolf population other than the potential threat brought on by the political pressure of emotional, misinformed individuals.

If you and the other posters were children we could all say oh how cute, but you are suppose to be adults who can think for yourselves. Don't you realize that each time you post utter non-sense about wildlife management two kittens and three polar bear babies die? Maybe that is the tact that will work with the likes of you...

Think before you put a finer line on the public awareness of your ignorance.
20:28 January 15, 2010 by Keith #5083
Just exactly how much 'damage' do wolves do, for example, compared with pig breeders who mistreat their animals? Would it not be sufficient that the wolves resign their status?

Costner observed in the epilogue to 'Dances with Wolves' that in 210 years there had not been a reported wolf attack upon humans in the USA (please allow me a +/- factor in this as I', going from a genetically impaired memory). What is the record of attacks upon humans in Sweden,for example, compared with drunk drivers?

#Redbee - I believe the article states that 70% dissaprove of wolf hunting - only 30% approve of Mr. Magoo.

#entry - that's a superb line "think before you put a finer line on the public awareness of your ignorance". No.Really,I'm serious. Is it yours or a quote, please? Oh, and in what way are the wolves genetically impaired? Is this a 'National Rifle Association' definition? I simply ask to alleviate my ignorance as I am not aware of the 'massive damage' caused by wolves in Sweden. Can you enlighten me please?

I suppose it's a sign of the times, anti-social Boy Scouts and vandal-prone Wolf Cubs.
20:53 January 15, 2010 by Investor612
Once again:

Who is the best informed regarding how many of a predator species the available prey and habitat can support?

Is it the caring and feeling urban "environmentalists" with their romantic mythology about the nature of wolves?


Is it trained naturalists who spend their lives observing, studying, and managing the ecosystem?
20:59 January 15, 2010 by entry
OMG I had no idea that you would face me down with the intellect of the Kevin Costner epilog from the Hollywood movie, Dances with wolves... How could I have expected that? You have caught me off guard.

Anyways... I am just heading out for a night with the wife and friends.

Now it is a good thing you liked my statement "Think before you put a finer line on the public awareness of your ignorance", but that just makes it all the more tragic that you did not heed it...

I'll get back to your post later.
22:13 January 15, 2010 by Keith #5083
Gosh.Shucks.Gee! I declared my ignorance and looked to you, #entry, to educate me. But,as I expected,you chickened out! Or should I say 'cried wolf'.

However, do not despair. Help is at hand. An old-fashioned remedy that may be helpful is a half-teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda dissolved in water and drunk, every morning. This has proved helpful to some with gall problems and certainly reduces bile in the system.

I hope you have an enjoyable night out, relax and take it easy. Perhaps tomorrow you can address my request for the information you clearly desire to inpart to us ignoramus's.
22:32 January 15, 2010 by wxman
Finally, an expert I agree with. Until we can teach wolves the meaning of fences, we must manage their population.
23:44 January 15, 2010 by Keith #5083
In 2001 this: "The authorities in neighbouring Sweden, which co-operates with Norway to manage the wolf population along the common border, are vehemently opposed to the plan". This was a plan to cull wolves who had caused 'massive damage' by ' reportedly' killing 600 sheep in Norway over a period of time. This figure probably equates with the massive losses of Norwegian reindeer 'compensation-claimed' and caused by....Eagles!"

I am neither a romanticist about wolves or the environment - nor am I a romanticist about the real causes for culls. It's usually money!

So how much does the cull cost and how much is the 'claimed' loss of livestock cost? Oh, and how much do the hunters get paid?

Perhaps I may be permitted to also observe that the wolf population must have phenomenally increased over a 9 years period in order to explain the complete reversal of 'the authorities vehement opposition' to culls. Ah, but then humans are fairly prone to erratic behaviour, that's why we have fences,huh?

Hope you don't mind my display of ignorance in your absence, #entry.
00:46 January 16, 2010 by SilentLogic
If wildlife personnel are facing severe criticism they should give detailed and reasonable justification instead of leaving and letting the folks shouting at each other....
03:41 January 16, 2010 by Investor612

Just because it isn't in print, doesn't mean they haven't.

Never, ever trust the media to fully cover anything.

Especially a story like this that can be used to inflame passions by sensationalizing it (and get greater readership in the process).

Is there a website for the Swedish Dept. of Natural Resources or whatever they call it?

If there is perhaps someone can go there? I don't speak Swedish or I would.

In the states I've lived in in the US, the state depts. of natural resources do an excellent job of keeping predator and prey poipulations at healthy levels, regulating the hunting seasons to reach the optimum levels. So my inclination , especially in an advanced country like Sweden, is to assume the professionals know what they're doing.

That said, I used to live in Minnesota, about 2/3's the size of Sweden, similar climate, and similar population density. Minnesota has over 3000 wolves which is too many and they are doing damage and spreading into areas where they were never present. Urban pseudoenvironmentalists have thwarted the state using hunting deasons to keep that population in check.

Still, the optimum Minnesota wolf population would be between 1500 and 2000. So just a couple hundred in Sweden seems low to me. One reason may be Minnesota has different logging practices and more emerging growth forest which results in much higher populations of prey and other species (especially white tail deer here). That might be one reason why our ecosystem can support more wolves.

But that's all a guess. Hopefully someone with a knowledge of the swedish language can find out here.
03:51 January 16, 2010 by Greg in Canada
It makes me roll my eyes and laugh when Europeans talk about Sweden's great "wilderness and wildlife". Sweden can't support 210 wolves according to this "expert"? Get real. we have over 60,000 wolves in Canada. We're a lot larger country, but Sweden can do much better than that number.

Having said that, wolves are also over hunted in Canada in my opinion. They are only protected in our national parks.
08:01 January 16, 2010 by geronimoIII
Too many people.
08:26 January 16, 2010 by Investor612
Good grief, Greg. Wolves are all over the place in Canada.

I've had them walk into a fishing camp in Ontario.


12:24 January 16, 2010 by Taz Mania
Yes Kill, Kil Kill. They really are a terrible nuisance. Even if you have never seen one.. They are there. Yes they are there. hunting you, carefully stalking you.

Back where I came from they had the right idea, with the native 'wolf' also known as the Thylacine:


Funny thing is these days they are trying to bring the damn things back to life:


Terrible creatures they were. Used to eat the farmers sheep and chickens. Horrid buggers.

Yes if you ask me Sweden is on the right track, infact we should have been happy after '66 I say. Kill more. Just eradicate them. Useless pests

That zoo had the right idea. Saw the wolves were intelligent, and had a will to live. If only it wern't for that pesky bit of dodgy wiring. Anyway its all over now.. for the wolves at least.

Problem is .... if only I wern't such (quoting from other users of this site) a: lefto-commie-liberal- tree hugging- pinkie-vagitarian-greenie scumbag. I would get out there and do my host country a good deal of duty, load up a .22 and destroy these harbingers of fear and death. Who's with me? Sign up for the next hunt?

If we destroy 'em all, heck we'll just import some more, Screw it! we'll clone some new-ones, just so we can kill them again.

16:08 January 16, 2010 by Greg in Canada
Wolves don't do as much damage as people believe. In Canada we've found that coyotes are much more of a nuisance to farm livestock, etc. In areas where wolves are reduced, then the coyote population increases because they are competitors with each other. Wolves are often blamed for problems caused by coyotes or even packs of wild dogs.
22:56 January 16, 2010 by norling
Thank you for an intelligent post on the subject! I live in northern Minnesota and in an area of the state with the most wolves, correspondingly we also have the most deer and the healthiest moose population in the state. By far the worst predators in our state are packs of coyotes followed by packs of dogs not all of them feral, many are dogs just let out by their owners. Wolves are opportunistic predators but they are also intelligent, when farmers kill the offending wolves the rest of their pack figure out that killing farm animals leads to the death of their own.
01:13 January 17, 2010 by Greg in Canada
There was an article in our local paper just today about coyote damage on local livestock. I live in rural eastern Ontario and coyotes are very common while wolves are much less so. If the wolf population was allowed to increase, the coyote population would go down.
05:41 January 17, 2010 by Investor612

You'rer either uniformed or deliberately untruthful. The moose population in Minnesota is less than 20% of what it was 3 decades ago. Odd how that corresponds with the mushrooming wolf population, isn't it?

Your assertion that wolves learn to leave livestock alone is romantic drivel.

I don't want wolves eradicated. I want the wolf population scientifically managed so it's healthy and so are the prey species. The population has to be kept controlled so population pressure doesn't drive packs in agricultural areas as is currently happening.

At my cabin in N. MN wolves have tried to break into my dogs kennel to kill them. They've killed neighbor's dogs in their own yards. When that starts happening, there's too many.

I'll go for scientific management by professionals and you rely on your feelings.

And now, it's not because I want to hunt them because I have no interest in hunting wolves, bear, or deer.
10:21 January 17, 2010 by entry
Keith says...

"Just exactly how much 'damage' do wolves do, for example, compared with pig breeders who mistreat their animals? Would it not be sufficient that the wolves resign their status?"

If we are going to go off on wild tangents and compare oranges against apples I would rather highlight the oranges that have the most impact on humans. IMO wolves have not done as much damage here in Europe as the recent attack on the food chain & water supply by the UK government through their recent effort to spread more than one ton of highly dispersible poisonous powdered mercury ready packaged in free low energy light bulbs distributed to residential UK customers. The recent absence of tuna fish sandwiches in my diet is not do to toxicity concerns, however I fully expect the misguided government policies of injecting high levels of toxic mercury into the environment to make a tuna fish sandwich all but a distant memory in the near future if individuals like yourself and government policy makers are not educated as to the damage that they cause to society.

Sweden and other governments throughout Europe have recognized the historic, current and future damaged to human society by wolves and have limited the dominant Grey Wolf population as well as the overlapping Eurasian wolf(neither of which are endangered by any measure and statements of extinction by Eco-nuts only highlight the lack of knowledge held by the fruitloops). Keith, you appear to be both highly emotional and misinformed, so I am tempted to believe that you are familiar with the elite social clubs such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Foundation(who many years ago I donated heavily) that strive to provide it's professional fundraiser's with exotic vacations and high society lifestyles through the fleecing of silly children, simpleminded adults & politically intimidated governments with heart wrenching pleas to save the whales, polar bears, unicorns, etc...

With that in mind, perhaps the case for wolf culls can be made to you by the World Wildlife Foundation(WWF). The WWF in petitioning the government of Greece for less restrictive management policies against the Jackal(a smaller member of the same family as wolves) admitted the losses of domesticated animals by the cute and cuddly Jackal were great but stated that they were not nearly as bad as the losses suffered due to Greece's wolf population. The WWF makes their case by explaining that the compensated domestic animal losses due to wolf attacks in Greece, which is only a fraction of the total wolf caused losses was in 1998: 5,894 sheep and goats, 880 cattle. In addition they reflected on the three year period in Greece between April 1989 and June 1991 where wolves slaughtered more than 21,000 sheep and goats and 2,729 cattle even with more than 750 wolves being killed each and every year in Greece. Similar losses due to wolves have also been observed in Croatia and other countries where wolf populations have been allowed to increase to unmanageable numbers.

Less than nimble minds are always ready to accept any and all livestock losses suffered by rural residents due to predation until little daughter Granola comes running to parental unit Moon Beam with teary eyes and bloodied collar of the beloved pet. It is then and only then that life's reality potentially sets in. However, I never under estimate the ignorance of PETA-philes.

Keith says... "Costner observed in the epilogue to 'Dances with Wolves' that in 210 years there had not been a reported wolf attack upon humans in the USA (please allow me a +/- factor in this as I', going from a genetically impaired memory). What is the record of attacks upon humans in Sweden,for example, compared with drunk drivers?" Keith please refer to Twiceshy's comment on Strawmen and red herrings. While I am unaware of any claim of wolf attacks on human's being used to strengthen the wildlife management case for the recent wolf cull in Sweden I fully support the reintroduction of wolves into urban settings where wolf packs can be utilized to manage the population of Eco-nuts.
11:37 January 17, 2010 by J Jack
@ Keith - There is not NRA in Sweden. So there's a finer line to your largely inept postings.
11:50 January 17, 2010 by entry
Greg in Canada says...

It makes me roll my eyes and laugh when Europeans talk about Sweden's great "wilderness and wildlife". Sweden can't support 210 wolves according to this "expert"? Get real. We have over 60,000 wolves in Canada. We're a lot larger country, but Sweden can do much better than that number.

Having said that, wolves are also over hunted in Canada in my opinion. They are only protected in our national parks.

Greg, I do not believe the case has been made by wildlife officials here in Sweden that 210 is an unmanageable number. It is my understanding the wolf cull was called due to the predation of livestock and domestic pets by wolves. 210 wolves may be a small number nationwide but if you have your farm where the wolves are all gathered this is a problem.

The other case is that the wolf population in Sweden is horribly inbred. The entire wolf population here can be traced to two individuals. While incestuous breeding practices are common place with Royal Families here in Europe(big wink at HALE loved that line in the other thread...and New Year's wishes from myself to you and family from Maria and myself...), in wildlife management this leads to an intolerable weakening of the gene pool. That said, I tend to agree with wildlife officials that the recent wolf cull was much too small. However, discussion in the media on this topic has been dominated by fruitcakes and I have not read about any efforts to supplement the gene pool of Swedish wolves by the introduction of reproductively viable wolves from elsewhere in Europe.

The dominate wolf species here in Sweden is the Grey wolf(I actually do not know if there are any Eurasian wolves but I kind of doubt it) and they have the potential to multiply like rats. The Grey Wolf is only endangered in the tiny minds of Eco-nuts. While it is true that some regions no longer have wolves, so a case could be made that the areas encompassing and surrounding Stockholm and Malmo, once had but no longer have a vibrant wolf population and could be considered extict... However, in these days we no longer have science but consensus. A determination is made, committees are assembled, and then research is preformed to support the preestablished determination. Great minds sit on TV panels and discuss how many teeth are in a horses head, or potentially in a horses head and no thought is given to look into a horses mouth and simply count them. Christine Demsteader reported in TheLocal.se that the Zoological Institute at Gothenburg University surveyed 1,751 people(none of which has directly suffered financial losses to wolf predation on their family owned businesses or have had their horse, pet dog or cat maimed/killed and eaten by wolves) on their attitudes to protection hunts. Seventy percent of Swedes surveyed did not show their support to the wolf hunt. Isn't that special? The feather brained idea of allowing a single mating pair of wolves to reintroduce the wolf species which is important to the food chain in Sweden was flawed from the beginning. One poster on one of the Wolf Cull threads stated the obvious, killing off X amount of wolves is going to improve the gene pool how? That is the heart of the matter and I do not see this being addressed.

Cut the inbred population down, supplement the gene pool with selections from the 10's of thousands of other wolves of the same species who infest Europe and report regularly in the media how much Eco-nuts have required us to pay extra each year to compensate rural residents for the losses to family income due to wolf predation.
12:06 January 17, 2010 by entry

Finding stuff in print here in Sweden and discussing it here at thelocal.se has problems. First you have to find it, then read & understand it, and if you find it is valid and worth passing on, you then have to translate it into English...

Some folks have doubted the genitics of the inbred Swedish wolf population:

Severe inbreeding depression in a wild wolf (Canis lupus) population

"The difficulty of obtaining pedigrees for wild populations has hampered the possibility of demonstrating inbreeding depression in nature. In a small, naturally restored, wild population of grey wolves in Scandinavia, founded in 1983, we constructed a pedigree for 24 of the 28 breeding pairs established in the period 1983–2002. Ancestry for the breeding animals was determined through a combination of field data (snow tracking and radio telemetry) and DNA microsatellite analysis. The population was founded by only three individuals. The inbreeding coefficient F varied between 0.00 and 0.41 for wolves born during the study period. The number of surviving pups per litter during their first winter after birth was strongly correlated with inbreeding coefficients of pups (R2=0.39, p<0.001). This inbreeding depression was recalculated to match standard estimates of lethal equivalents (2B), corresponding to 6.04 (2.58–9.48, 95% CI) litter-size-reducing equivalents in this wolf population."

23:36 January 17, 2010 by Greg in Canada
I can see the inbreeding as a potential problem. Grey wolves (also called Timber wolves) are quite common over here. Maybe we can send you a few over.:-)

01:35 January 18, 2010 by 2010traveler
Gray wolves have maintained a healthy population on Isle Royale in Lake Superior for more than 50 years. The individuals who show mutations or other problems due to inbreeding are simply killed off by the other wolves.

Also, the red wolf (Canis rufus) captive breeding program started in the 1970s with fewer than 20 individuals. Today their are more than 100 in the wild.

But I agree that there would be nothing wrong with bringing in a handful of gray wolves from North America to add genetic diversity.
02:06 January 18, 2010 by norling
So what is the problem with them inbreeding? Are they now a bunch of banjo picking baptists that vote republican??
04:58 January 18, 2010 by entry
Banjo picking baptists that vote republican aren't loggerheaded enough to support the Eco-nut policies advocated by some of your fellow posters here on this forum.
11:38 January 18, 2010 by jose_s
can the inbreeding be a result that years ago the over hunting the wolves nearly wiped them out of sweden?
15:32 January 18, 2010 by entry
hmmmmm...going down to zero wolves, might that be a factor.

Should people only be allowed to 'hunt' rats in the kitchen down to a certain healthy breeding population level? How many rats breaking into your food items is an acceptable number? Wolves are big rats to people who have livestock and pets.
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