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Nearly half of Swedish wolf hunt quota met

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Nearly half of Swedish wolf hunt quota met
Henrik Widlund during wolf hunt in Hasselfors north of Laxå, Saturday
11:54 CET+01:00
Sweden's wolf hunt">wolf hunt for the year began on Saturday, with nine wolves out of the allotted annual quota of 20 shot by 1pm, as protesters set off fireworks at a hunting area in Dalarna.

The hunt has been already called off in Dalarna and Gävleborg in eastern Sweden, while in Värmland, not a single wolf has yet to be shot.

The hunt began at dawn and even before the starting shot, the activity in the forests was intense.

The first wolf was shot at 9.18am on Saturday morning in Nås in Vansbro municipality in central Sweden. During the investigation, the second wolf was hit at Lake Gänsen in Ludvika municipality.

Most of the wolves will be hunted in Värmland and Dalarna in central and western Sweden. After several hours, four wolves in Dalarna county were killed and shots were fired at two others. In total, six wolves were shot in Dalarna.

One of the two animals that was shot was later put down while the search for the other continues. If it turns out that it was not hit, the hunt will resume.

The hunt has ended in Gävleborg county after reaching the quota of three wolves. Two were shot south of Ockelbo and the third in Ljusdal.

In Värmland, however, with an allocation of six wolves, not a single wolf was shot.

"I can only speculate on the cause, but there was snowfall in the morning and it takes a while before there are new trails to follow," said Lars Furuholm, predator manager at the Värmland county administrative board.

No major protests have occurred. However, about a dozen people protested against the wolf hunt at a hunting area between Insjön and Borlänge in central Sweden's Dalarna.

"They set off fireworks and firecrackers and disrupted the hunting party that phoned us. They felt that they had directed the fireworks against them," Dalarna police county officer in command Goran Nilsson at Dala police told news agency TT on Saturday.

A police patrol was sent to the area.

"No one was arrested, but we identified the people and wrote a citation for disturbance. Those who protested felt satisfied with their demonstration and left the scene," Nilsson added.

No other protests against the hunt in Dalarna had taken place by lunchtime.

In order to prevent the shooting of too many wolves, every wolf that is killed is reported to the respective county administrative board, which in turn can quickly send text messages to all hunting guides. Last year, hunters went over the quota by one wolf.

Some hunting teams have come in contact with wolves, but Furuholm believes that many are more cautious this year in order to not wound animals.

In addition, all hunting guides must get in touch with their respective county administrative boards at least once an hour. Dogs are never used at these hunts, only in necessary demand. The risk that the wolves would harm the dogs is too great.

According to Henrik Widlund, of the Swedish Hunters Association (Svenska Jägareförbundet), eight hunting dogs have been killed by wolves in their territory since 2008. The wolves' tendency to kill the dogs is the main reason behind the wolf hunters' resistance to use dogs in the hunt.

"The wolf is a fascinating game. I do not hate wolves, they just follow their instincts. However, I myself have seen the back of a hunt in wolf territory. I have five dogs," he said.

However, the association does not want more wolves in Sweden than the current number and would prefer slightly fewer. Environment Minister Andreas Carlgen has previously indicated that he believes there should be more.

Widlund is unsure what level the wolf population should be at in the future.

"Although they will not likely be fewer than 200, as many as they are today," he said.

When pressed further, he said that he would prefers to not have any wolves around at all.

"Personally, I would prefer to not have them. The wolf is a native species in the country with the right of domicile, but it is difficult to accept because it does not go well with our tradition of hunting with free-running dogs," he said.

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