Wolf activists in Sweden have threatened to head to the woods and sabotage the annual licensed wolf hunt.
Rap artist Follow Him to the End of the Desert is organising a protest against the wolf hunt in Dalarna in central Sweden on Saturday.
“We have Sweden’s most dangerous people against us, all of them are armed,” he told the Expressen newspaper.
Follow Him’s Facebook fan page features provocative photos of activists wearing masks and holding rifles behind mock bloody hunters shot dead.
They are wearing t-shirts which read “Die Wolf H8tr Die”.
Police in Dalarna are taking the threats seriously and have strengthened their preparations.
“There is a risk that the tensions will escalate. However, I can’t believe that there is any danger of violence,” Bo Eriksson, press officer at the Dalarna police, told the TT news agency on Friday.
Moving around in the woods when a hunt is ongoing hunting is always a risk, he added.
“It is each and everyone’s responsibility to behave appropriately. Ricochets and missed shots can be dangerous,” he said.
The Swedish Predatory Animal Association (Svenska Rovdjursföreningen) strongly rejected the wolf activists’ message.
“We reject all forms of violent and provocative actions. In addition, we are not only against the hunters, but also those who are responsible for wolf hunting coming into being, our politicians,” secretary general Ann Dahlerus told TT.
The attention that the wolf activists are receiving is unfortunate, she believes.
“It risks firing up this extremely infected conflict further, which doesn’t help the wolf. The more polarised and conflict-filled the issue is between people, the worse it becomes for wolves and wolf management,” Dahlerus added.
The organisation has appealed to Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren to stop the hunt in a letter.
So far, 18,580 people have signed the association’s petition against the hunt, which it calls a provocation to all who care about wolves. However, many still feel desperate and powerless, according to Dahlerus.
“They do not want to experience another hunt for the vulnerable and small wolf population,” she said.
She feels the protests against the hunt as more intense this year than last.
“There is a tremendous need for people to make their voices heard. In the petition, we try to channel the voices coming to us. The responsible politicians must, even if it is at the last second, see that there is a very strong expression of opinion against the wolf hunt, ” said Dahlerus.