Swedish hunters fail to fill wolf quota

Sweden's wolf hunt, which has courted controversy with the EU Commission and animal rights campaigners, has come to a close with hunters failing to fill the quota, officials said on Wednesday.

Swedish hunters fail to fill wolf quota
Protesters against wolf hunt outside Stockholm's Sergels torg, February 6th

This year’s hunt began in Sweden on January 15th and ended on Tuesday, with hunters permitted to shoot a maximum of 20 wolves across six regions.

“The hunt is now over in all regions,” Anneli Nivren, press director of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) told AFP on Wednesday, adding one wolf had escaped the hunters.

By an hour after sundown Tuesday when the hunting season ended, only 19 animals had been culled.

“It’s too bad. We would have have gladly taken it,” Torbjörn Larsson, head of the hunters’ association in the central Swedish region of Västmanland, told the TT news agency late on Tuesday.

Sweden argued that the hunt, which was reopened last year after a 46-year ban, allowed it to strengthen the gene pool of its largely inbred wolf population, insisting it will import wolves from Finland and Russia to replace the killed animals.

The hunt also enjoys support in rural Sweden, where the small wolf stock has grown over the past three decades and sheep and reindeer have increasingly come under attack.

The Swedish parliament decided in 2009 to keep wolf numbers at 210 animals, spread out in 20 packs, with 20 new pups per year.

In January, the European Commission launched legal action against Sweden for allowing the hunt of a protected species.

It decided to open a formal infringement procedure, which could lead to a case before the European Court of Justice, which can impose hefty fines on EU states that violate the bloc’s rules. According to the commission, some 6,700 hunters took part in this year’s hunt.

The hunt is also controversial in Sweden. Earlier this month, protestors marched through central Stockholm carrying 20 coffins to symbolise the number of wolves in this year’s hunting quota and nearly 8,000 people sent letters to Brussels to protest the hunt through a Swedish environmental group’s website.

Last week, former French screen idol Brigitte Bardot, now an animal rights campaigner, also blasted the hunt as “retrograde” in a letter to Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren and urged a halt to the cull.

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Swedish hunter attacked by bear

A Swede’s Saturday morning hunting expedition turned out a bit more exciting than expected.

Swedish hunter attacked by bear
The hunter was fine. The bear, not so much. Photo: Depositphotos
The hunter was attacked by a bear just outside of Klövsjö in the western Sweden province of Jämtland, Expressen reported. 
The hunter was able to shoot and kill the bear while under attack and escape unharmed. 
The incident was reported to local officials at 7.37am. 
“The bear was reportedly shot when it attacked a hunter. The hunter was unscathed. Police are on hand to investigate,” the local police district wrote on its website. 
The dead bear will be sent to the Swedish National Veterinary Institute (Statens veterinärmedicinska anstalt) for examination. 
Under Swedish law it is legal to hunt bear between August and October and in recent years this has been actively encouraged to help control growing numbers of the creatures.
Hundreds of brown bears are shot in Sweden every autumn as part of the cull, but the practice has also been met with criticism. The Swedish Species Information Centre announced in 2015 that the brown bear is once again at risk of becoming extinct, after previously dropping off the centre's annual 'red' watchlist.
The centre reclassified the brown bear as an endangered species, citing hunting as the primary cause of the declining population.  
Bear attacks on humans are relatively rare in Sweden, compared to the US, where on average two people a year die as a result of an encounter with a bear. By contrast, there have only been two fatalities caused by bear attacks over the last century in Sweden.