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Sweden court stops hotly contested wolf hunt

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Sweden court stops hotly contested wolf hunt
A wolf on the prowl. Photo: Shutterstock
13:26 CET+01:00
A Swedish court has pulled the plug on a wolf hunt due to start on Friday, favouring animal rights activists in one of the country's most hotly disputed environmental issues.
Sweden resumed wolf hunting in 2010 and 2011, which led the European Commission to protest the country's policy of hunting quotas.
 
Since then environmental advocates have been successful in fighting the government's decisions to allow culling.
 
A lower court agreed on Thursday with wildlife activists that the regions of Örebro and Värmland had exceeded their powers by issuing hunting permits for species protected by European nature legislation.
 
"We are satisfied, but it is sad that we still have to go to court to ask for application of the law," Tom Arnbom, a wildlife specialist at WWF Sweden, one of the plaintiffs in the western town of Karlstad's administrative court, told AFP.
 
Wolf hunting is a sensitive issue in Sweden, as in other European countries where the carnivore was reintroduced in recent decades.
 
"It is remarkable that the hunt is stopped 12 hours before it's supposed to begin. A number of people have taken time off and gone out into the wilderness," the Swedish Hunters Association's chairman Björn Sprängare told news agency TT.
 
Sweden's former centre-right government believed wolves had become too invasive in some areas and the population was to be reduced from 400 to 270 animals.
 
But the current coalition of Social Democrats and Greens is divided between an agricultural minister who favours hunting and his environmental counterpart, who opposes it.
 
The news comes hot on the heels of wolf tracks being spotted in Stockholm. Officials suspect two wolves have been prowling in the snow in southern Stockholm's Järna and have advised people to report sightings of any wolves or other predators in their local neighbourhood.
 
Wolves are social animals that usually move and hunt in packs. There are believed to be around 370 wolves in Sweden, with most of them living in the far north of the country.
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