Swedish elk starve after long harsh winter

Five elk calves have been found starved to death in Värmland in central Sweden recently, with experts fearing that the drawn out harsh winter may claim further victims.

Swedish elk starve after long harsh winter

Per Persson, an 85-year-old hunter living in northern Vämland, told the local Nya Wermlands-Tidningen (NWT) daily that he has never seen anything like it as the elk, rendered ravenous by the long period of snow-cover, seek to find food.

“The elk eat everything they come across. They are even eating spruce, it has gone that far,” he said, confirming that five dead elk calves have been found in the area.

With the big thaw still a few weeks away, local authorities are warning that the food situation is set to remain parlous for the emaciated elk and more fatalities are to be expected.

“The reserves of fat that they have built up have run out now. The population is going to decline significantly,” Per Larsson, a county conservationist, told NWT.

Per Persson has called on forestry owners to leave woodland debris and offcuts by the side of roads to give the hungry elk a lifeline while the snow cover melts.

The country meanwhile is not planning to take any action despite the added risk of roads accidents involving elk as the animals move closer to built up areas in search of sustenance.

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Trains delayed and roads slippery in Sweden despite lower snowfall

Sweden's state-owned rail company SJ cancelled several train services on Tuesday as a result of the snowy weather, while forecasters warned that roads could still be slippery in many regions.

Trains delayed and roads slippery in Sweden despite lower snowfall

SJ is cancelling several regional trains on Tuesday between Stockholm and Uppsala, Stockholm and Västerås, and Gävle and Linköping at the request of the Swedish Transport Administration, which wants to free up space on the tracks. 

At the same time, weather forecaster SMHI warned that, while snowfall would decrease over the day, there would still be a risk of slippery roads in many areas.

“It’s still continuing to snow, but the intensive snowfall we are now warning about will come to an end during the day, starting in the south of the country,” state meteorologist Angelica Lundberg told the TT newswire.  “Over the coming days there may be an increased risk of slipping and this is the case most of all close to the coast.” 

Bengt Olsson, press officer for the Swedish Transport Administration, told SVT that the disruptions seen on Sunday and Monday looked likely to ease off on Tuesday. 

“It’s a bit calmer so far. There’s another type of road surface to day. It’s starting to freeze up a but. There’s a lot of crust from the snow and patches of ice out on the road, so its the risk of skidding that we are trying to deal with today.”

The slippery roads have led to some busses being cancelled, with Dalatrafiken, the bus operator in Dalarna, cancelling several regional bus services. 

Buses parked at the Keolis bus depot in Värtahamnen cruise terminal in Stockholm.
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Stockholm’s transport operator SL suspended the Lindingöbanan Light-railway line on Tuesday morning, and has also reduced some commuter train services. In Söderort, Huddinge and Botkyrka all bus services have been cancelled. 

“The measures taken to prevent skidding aren’t working,” SL’s press spokesperson Andreas Strömberg told SVT. “At Juliaborg in Huddinge six of our buses got stuck, so the traffic controllers decided to cancel all further services so we can get in snow ploughs.

Snow was continuing to fall on Tuesday over much of central Sweden, and SMHI has issued the lowest “yellow” weather warning for Sörmland, Västmanland, Örebro, Dalarna, and the north of Värmland. 

In most places, there is now between 5cm-15cm of snow, with 20cm in some places.