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.
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.