Wolves Are Still Endangered and May Be Hunted Soon in Sweden

The first licensed wolf hunt in Sweden since 2011 is scheduled for February 1, 2014. Up to 30 wolves could be shot to cull their numbers from the current level of 350 to 400 down to 170.

During the previous licensed hunt in 2011, 6,747 hunters registered to kill 20 wolves out of a total population of about 250.

The gray wolf is still an endangered species in Sweden and environmental activists are mounting a vigorous effort to stop the hunt. “We will appeal, we stopped it last time,” says Mikael Karlsson of the Swedish Society for Natural Conservation (SNCC).

The “last time” Karlsson is referring to was a hunt scheduled to occur this past February in which 16 inbred wolves were to be killed. A court decision stopped this hunt on the grounds that this was not the right method to address concerns about Sweden’s wolf population. As Swedish WWF has noted, the country is “a large country with very high densities of prey” and “is also relatively sparsely populated compared to other countries in Europe which have wolves.”

Swedish officials say that the wolf population has since grown and that culling it can preserve livestock and even increase people’s support for maintaining wolves in the wild. “Sweden has never had so many large predators as now. That’s good news for everyone who works to protect biodiversity,” Environment Minister Lena Ek said in a statement about the new hunting policy.

After being essentially eliminated in most of Western Europe, the wolf has been making a comeback and some have recently been sighted in Germany and the Netherlands after decades. Environmentalists say that reducing the wolf population in Sweden to 170 is not enough to ensure their survival. “There is no scientific basis for these figures… It’s a purely political decision,” says Karlsson, who also charges that the Swedish government does not want to lose votes in rural areas that the pro-hunting Swedish Democrats target.

Earlier surveys have found that most of the Swedish people are “already positive to the wolves in rural areas.” Hunters and sheep farmers have raised the most objections. “Sweden does not have enough room for both wolves and humans,” Johan Boström of the National Association of Huntsmen, contends, adding that ”we think grey wolves in Sweden should not be in the wild… they should be kept behind fences.”

The population of wolves in Sweden are all descended from three wolves who emigrated into the country in 1983 from Finland (whose wolf population numbers about 200). There has been no evidence of genetic exchanges with the Finnish/Russian wild population since 1991. Genetic diversity among Swedish wolves is very low and “higher than for full siblings mating.”

As Tom Arnbom, an expert on predators at Swedish WWF, said in response to the announcement of the new hunting policy, “it’s deplorable that the government is consciously undermining the whole EU legal system that should protect endangered species.” Conservationists think that, as it did in 2011, the European Commission will threaten Sweden with legal action over the licensed hunts. Under the 1979 Berne Convention (which most European countries including Sweden have signed), hunting wolves is prohibited.

The wolf population on Sweden remains endangered and is still very much in need of protection. Tell the Swedish government to stop the licensed wolf hunt by signing the petition.

Photo via Thinkstock

164 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

very sad but thanks for sharing

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B.2 years ago

This is sad.

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright2 years ago

Why can't humans leave other species alone? Why can't we learn to coexist with on another? What is wrong with us humans? Never mind...that was rhetorical.....

Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

Norway is overrun with the same cold blooded, antisocial sociopaths as their Swedish counterparts, as an example the Norwegian cowards on snowmobiles who killed off the last of their wolf families . Plus Norway is in the same subclass as Japan and Iceland, self absorbed criminals who murder whales just for the thrill of being able to murder something without being charged for murder. Norway is swimming in oil money and Sweden is well off too, it is obvious to anyone their sociopaths kill only for the thrill of killing. Swedish farmers and sheep herders deserve to be publicly executed and their "property" donated to the wildlife which rightfully owns it. Swedish and Norwegian gun happy rednecks are mentally diseased cowards who don't deserve the northern lands they occupy and are not entitled to them.

Maria Kenyon
Maria Kenyon2 years ago

Why is Sweden doing this?

Patricia Losch
Patricia L.2 years ago

The United States ,Sweden ,Germany what other country will follow . Why can't they leave those beautiful animals alone

Waheeda S.
Waheeda S.2 years ago

Sweden, what are you thinking???

Roxana Saez
Roxana Saez2 years ago

TYFS

David B.
David B.2 years ago

opinion of the sweds just dropped . thought it was only the yanks were blood thirsty murderers , oh well not the first time i've been wrong . 6747 to 20 !! what a brave bunch. and they probably all have high powered rifles with scopes . so that they don't have to get too close .