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Six things you need to know about hunting in Sweden

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Six things you need to know about hunting in Sweden
A hunter in Sweden. Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT
14:24 CEST+02:00
The annual elk hunt is under way in parts of Sweden. But who is allowed to hunt and what rules do you have to follow?

Who is allowed to hunt in Sweden?

Hunters in Sweden must take an exam involving both theoretical and practical tests (jägarexamen), with the specific requirements for passing outlined by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

If you have passed the hunter exam and want to hunt using your own weapon, you must be aged over 18 and apply to the police for a licence to own hunting weapons.

You also have to pay a so-called hunting conservation fee for a hunting permit. The permit has to be renewed every year and you have to carry it with you during the hunt.

Foreigners who come to Sweden to take part in the hunt also have to pay the fee (300 kronor – $31), and they also have to contact police and customs for special permits to bring hunting weapons to Sweden.

Foreign citizens can also take the hunter exam test in Sweden by first registering in the official Hunter Registry, which gets you a personal HunterID number, and then sitting the hunting exam.


The number of female hunters is growing in Sweden. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

How many hunters are there in Sweden?

The Hunter Registry contains, among other things, information about those who have passed the hunting exam and how many have paid the hunting conservation fee and received a licence. Foreign hunter exams or information regarding their firearms are not included in the hunting registry.

In recent years, the agency has issued almost 300,000 hunting permits every year (the full hunting year runs from July 1st to June 30th) with around 12,000-13,500 tests passed.

READ ALSO: An Englishman's tale of hunting elk in Sweden


A team of hunters in the forest. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

What are you allowed to hunt?

There are around 60 species of game that can be hunted in Sweden. The Swedish government decides which ones, and what times of the year they may be hunted.

The most common species for hunting are elk and deer, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, with around 90,000 elk and 200,000 deer shot every year. The site Viltdata keeps statistics of culled animals.

Hunters have several rules they need to adhere to, including regarding which firearms to use and how and what kind of bait they use to lure the animals to a certain site. Anyone found guilty of breaching the rules could be sentenced to a fine or, if the crime is considered particularly serious, up to four years in jail.

Where can you hunt?

In principle, landowners own the hunting rights on their land, but they can also lease out the right. Around half of the land in Sweden is owned by either the state or large companies, who then lease out the hunting rights to hunting associations or individuals.

A high-profile court case involving a Sami village and the Swedish state regarding who owns the hunting rights within the Sami village – the Swedish state that owns the land, or the Sami community who has been using the land for centuries – is currently being heard by Sweden's Supreme Court after a series of appeals.

READ ALSO: Is it an elk or is it a moose?


The elk hunt has started in northern Sweden. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

When can you hunt?

Sweden's hunting season primarily lasts from around August to February, but the exact dates are determined by the government and vary depending on the type of species being hunted and geographic location.

For example, the 2019 elk hunt kicked off on September 2nd in many northern counties, but will not start until early October in southern and central Sweden, including Stockholm county.

How controversial is hunting?

Sweden has a long tradition of hunting. It is considered a key part of wildlife conservation and – while not as vital as it used to be – a source of food, but it is also seen a pastime by participants. For them, hunting is simply a chance to enjoy nature and an opportunity to socialize for many people across the country, especially in northern Sweden.

"Hunting is, and shall be a wise long-term utilization of the renewable natural resources," writes the Swedish Hunting Association (Jägareförbundet) on its website.

Swedish animal rights organization Djurens Rätt, however, argues that wildlife conservation is not a sufficient argument for hunting, and calls for developing other methods for wildlife population regulation.

It believes hunting should only be allowed to protect individual animals, for example if an injured or sick animal has to be put down to minimize its suffering.

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