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Court ruling ends Sweden's wolf hunt

13 Feb 2013, 07:40

Published: 13 Feb 2013 07:40 GMT+01:00

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The Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen) decided not review a previous decision by the Administrative Court of Appeal (Kammarrätten) that had temporarily halted this season's wolf hunt.

Earlier in the year, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) had authorized the killing of 16 wolves in specific territories between February 1st and February 17th.

According to estimates from last year, there are around 270 wolves in Sweden, spread out in about 30 packs, though those numbers have most certainly risen since then.

The agency had planned a "selective and targeted hunt of inbred wolves as a step towards reducing inbreeding and having a sustainable, healthy wolf population".

The Administrative Court of Appeal ruling amounted to a temporary injunction against the agency's authorization, but as the hunt is set to end on Sunday, the higher court's decision not to review the case means the hunt is effectively over for the season.

"That's going to be the case unless the Administrative Court of Appeal surprises everyone and figures something out tomorrow [Wednesday]", Mikael Karlsson, chair of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Naturskyddsföreningen), told Sveriges Television (SVT).

Karlsson welcomed the ruling, adding that it was "important" that the injunction remains in place.

However, the Swedish Hunting Association (Svenska Jägareförbundet) was disappointed that the wolf hunt had been brought to a premature end.

"I see this as devastating for the management of the wolf population. It just means continued frustration for rural residents in this county," Thomas Björklund, chair for the Hunting Association in Dalarna in central Sweden, told TT.

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.

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

Story continues below…

In January 2011, the Commission reprimanded the Scandinavian country for its wolf hunt.

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

TT/AFP/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

12:17 February 13, 2013 by Mpf
It was effectively stopped a week ago but TheLocal failed to report on that story. Personally I am glad it is over, although I do understand that those with livestock in very rural areas but believe they are well compensated for any losses.

Besides there have been more deaths/attacks by wolves on humans while in captivity than there have been by free roaming wolves haven't there?
19:55 February 13, 2013 by karex
I did some research on wolves over a year ago when I sighted one not too far from my house. My husband at first didn't believe me saying that there were no wolves this far south in Sweden (I live close to Borås). However, I know a wolf when I see one and sure enough within the week some of our neighbors had also sighted him. BTW, it was an amazing encounter. What a majestic creature!

I believe that I read somewhere that there have been around 20 wolf attacks on people in the past 200 years here in Sweden, if memory serves me right. And not all encounters were fatal.

Based on what I was able to understand, wolves will do their best to avoid people (clever of them). What a wolf could do is attack someone walking a dog - maybe. They are not exclusive in this behaviour, an elk will do that too, albeit for another reason: they can get easily annoyed and have nasty tempers. I would be interested to see the statistics of the number of fatal encounters of people with elks during the same time span.

According to what I learned, a dog can see a wolf as another dog and may either want to play or fight. Bad idea. The wolf sees a dog as another wolf and they're very territorial (so are dogs come to think of it, a trait inherited from their ancestors the wolves perhaps?). Wolves will try to drive the "invader" away or kill it. The dog owner can become collateral damage if he/she tries to interfere once the process is in full swing, i.e., when both the dog and wolf are committed.

The advice I read says that if you encounter a wolf, especially a lone individual (they hunt in packs). Stop and look it straight in the eyes. Don't make any sudden movements which could be misinterpreted as aggressive. In the stare-down, 9 times out of 10 the wolf will yield and walk away. They would rather avoid trouble.

Personally my own interpretation of this whole wolf hunting controversy here in Sweden is that the reasons put forth for the "culling" are flimsy at best. Were the authorities really interested in strengthening the health of the population, they would have tested and tagged the sickly ones. That was not done. I believe that this was just a poor excuse to appease livestock owners and hunters' blood-thirst.

Nature will take care of the culling. The sick and weakly simply cannot survive in the wild. Nature has done this long before man was around and never needed our help.
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