Sweden to recalculate wolf numbers using excrement

Sweden's Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvärdsverket) is trialing a new method of calculating the country's stock of wild wolves: collecting and analysing their excrement.

Sweden to recalculate wolf numbers using excrement
There is debate over how many wild wolves Sweden has. Photo: Heiko Junge/NTB/TT

The current model estimates the population based on the number of young found that season, but it does not take into account the animals that die during the same period. The method has been criticised by both the Swedish Carnivore Association and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.

So while officially there were estimated to be 355 wolves in Sweden last season, the Swedish Carnivore Association argues that there were only 255.

READ ALSO: Sweden allows culling of 22 wolves in authorised hunt

Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is trialling a new model based on collecting wolf droppings then working out numbers from there, radio station P4 Värmland reports.

“We're collecting extra droppings which we can take DNA from and identify individuals, which will later be used by the research team to evaluate different models of calculating the wolves,” Naturvårdsverket’s Maria Hörnell Willebrand explained.

If Naturvårdsverket changes its model it could have consequences for the numbers permitted in an annual licensed cull in Sweden.

A number of organizations have tried unsuccessfully to stop the hunts, arguing numbers are lower than official records show due to illegal hunting.

READ ALSO: Eight wolves shot in first day of Sweden's hunt