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Officials threatened over wolf hunt

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14:47 CEST+02:00
Almost half of the public officials working with wild animal control in the five counties that permit wolf hunting have received death threats or other forms of harassment, according to a report by the Sveriges Radio Kaliber programme.

The programme interviewed 45 public officials who had worked with wild animal issues in their respective county for more than a year. Half of this number reported having been on the receiving end of death threats and other harassment.

Per Johansson, who works within Dalarna county in central Sweden, claimed that his life had been threatened on at least two occasions.

Johansson also reported that on one occasion the tyres on his car had been slashed while the vehicle was parked at his home.

"Eight metres from the kitchen window," he told Kaliber.

Mats Hallin,a nature preservation official at the County Administrative Board of Dalarna, told of his concern over the way people show their dissatisfaction with how the issue is managed.

"One usually works alone so it makes for an unsafe workplace or working situation," said Hallin.

Sveriges Television (SVT) is also set to claim in a documentary scheduled for broadcast on Sunday that a group of hunters works systematically to try to exterminate the Swedish wolf population. SVT claims that the group deploys poisoned meat, traps and high-calibre rifles.

"The vermin should be got rid of, plain and simple," said one of the hunters, according to SVT.

Torbjörn Lövbom at the Swedish Hunters' Association (Svenska Jägareförbundet), has condemned both the threats and illegal hunting. He argues that the reports are a sign of the "increased polarisation of the wild animal issue which has become more prominent after the wolf hunt," referring to a recent decision to permit the limited culling of wolves.

"It has resulted in some people in the periphery (of the hunting community) who wish to appear decisive and have taken matters into their own hands quite simply, but I think it is a very, very small group."

Lövbom and the others at the association say that they do not know of any group engaged in the illegal hunting of wolves.

He notes that both public officials and hunters have received threats.

"I myself have received threatening letters in connection with the wolf hunt, which were even handwritten," he said.

Torbjörn Lövbom argues that the debate has at times become exaggerated, with talk of the mass slaughter of wolves, or that the culling had been conducted improperly. He called on all those engaged in the debate to act responsibly and moderate their tone.

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