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Swedish wolf hunt claims first prey

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Swedish wolf hunt claims first prey
09:27 CET+01:00
The first of sixteen wolves permitted in the ongoing hunt was killed on Saturday morning close to Örebrö in central Sweden.

The wolf was shot shortly after 7am in the vicinity of Hedby preserve in Örebro.

"We don't know yet what type of wolf was shot," said Per Wedholm at Örebro county.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) has authorized the killing of 16 wolves in specific territories in a hunt that starts on Friday and ends on February 17th.

Wolves are considered a protected species in many parts of Europe, and Swedish environmentalists decried the hunt as illegal and said it could hurt the wolf population.

The most recent estimate a year ago put the overall number of wolves in Sweden at around 270, spread out in about 30 packs, though those numbers have most certainly risen since then.

Several Swedish animal protection organisations have joined forces to appeal the agency's decision to permit the hunt to Stockholm's Administrative Court.

Sweden's parliament voted to resume a licensed wolf hunt in 2010 after a 46-year hiatus, allowing 27 wolves to be killed.

Supporters said the cull was needed to strengthen the gene pool of Sweden's largely inbred wolf population, and wolves were imported from Finland and Russia to replace the killed animals.

The hunt was again authorized in 2011, but not in 2012.

EU officials told Swedish media they were watching the situation closely to determine whether to take Sweden to the European Court of Justice.

The hunt is supported in rural Sweden, where sheep and reindeer have increasingly come under attack.

TT/The Local/pvs

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