‘Bears most feared by Swedes’: report

Swedes are increasingly afraid of encountering wild animals in the countryside, particularly bears, according to a new report.

'Bears most feared by Swedes': report
More Swedes fear bears than any other animal

A survey by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, SLU) found that while the numbers of wild animals in Sweden increased in recent decades, fewer Swedes are venturing out into the wild, thereby increasing their fear of the unknown.

“We’re not at all out in nature to the same extent as before so we don’t really know how to react if we bump into wild animals,” Camilla Sandström, a researcher who worked on the report, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

The numbers of wild animals, which are protected in Sweden by strict hunting quotas, has risen steadily in recent decades to an estimated 3,000 bears, 150,000 wlld boar and 300,000 elk.

When surveys began in the 1980s most Swedes feared encountering an elk but the latest report reveals that almost a half of Swedes are most afraid of bears while a third worry about stumbling across a wild boar. About a quarter think snakes and wolves pose the greatest threat to ramblers.

Nonetheless, Michael Schneider, an expert on predators at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) says that peoples’ fear of being mauled when out for a stroll is very often unjustified.

“Nearly all the accidents that have happened over the last year were connected to hunting in one form or another – and not only bear hunting,” he told SR.

“Normal forest lovers do not need to be afraid of bears.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘Stop taking selfies with elk,’ police warn Stockholmers

Stockholm police have asked the public to stop taking photos with elk, after several of the wild animals had to be killed after getting agitated by selfie-takers.

'Stop taking selfies with elk,' police warn Stockholmers
Whether in nature or in the city, if you do see an elk in Sweden, always keep a distance. Photo: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/

Police needed to shoot the elk after they wandered into residential areas including Nacka and Enskede in the capital, Mitt i Stockholm reports.

“An elk that has got lost can usually find its way back if it is calm. But when people run up and take pictures, it becomes stressed and aggressive. It is utterly misanthropic and it’s outrageous that people do not understand better,” police officer Kenneth Kronberg, responsible for the National Game Accident Council (NVR), told the newspaper. 

“Game wardens have agreed that there is nothing wrong with the elk in the city. However, they get very stressed because there are so many people trying to take pictures. That’s why we have to kill the elk, because of 08-ers [a pejorative term for Stockholmers] who think the animal world looks like a Walt Disney movie.”

As well as avoiding taking photos with the animals, police also urged the public to avoid attempting to pet or stroke them, or getting too close. If you see a wild elk, instead you should keep a safe distance away.

In 2017, a rare while elk drew crowds of visitors hoping to catch a glimpse after a video went viral, and again police had to warn the public to treat the animal with care and avoid approaching it. The elk then grew aggressive, charging at a dog-walker, which led police to say they would need to kill the elk if they could not chase it away from the residential area.