A local politician in northern Sweden, openly opposed to excessive wolf hunting, was hospitalized on Tuesday night after being knocked out by a rock thrown through his bedroom window.
“I only had time to think that there had been an explosion,” Green Party member Arne Johansson from Ånge, in north western Sweden, told the Aftonbladet newspaper from the hospital bed.
“Then I woke up and found out it was a rock about ten centimetres wide.”
The blow had knocked Johansson unconscious. About two hours later he came to, and was able to call for help.
Johansson feels deep respect for the wild northern predator, and he has openly expressed his feelings on the eradication of wolves.
But after repeated threats and attacks, this might be the last straw, he told Afonbladet.
The same day as the attack, Johansson had also discovered the bolts to his car wheels were unscrewed, and that someone had carved a cross in the paint of the vehicle.
He has also previously received death threats in the mail.
It hasn’t been confirmed that it is his stance on wolf hunting that is the root of all his problems, but Johansson told the paper he had been informed by police that it is a clear possibility.
Earlier this year, Johansson had debated the wolf issue with a group of hunters, which made him realize just what he was up against.
“It was then I understood how fanatical they are. Not only did they want to wipe out the Swedish pack, but also the Russian,” he told Aftonbladet.
“Not a single wolf should exist on the planet. That’s crossing the line. I spoke my mind.”
Ann Dahlerus with the Predatory Animal Association (Svenska Rovdjursföreningen), which is against licenced killing of wolves, told Aftonbladet that it is quite common for their members to receive threats.
“Especially in areas with a lot of wolves it might be difficult socially to publicly be positive about wolves,” she said.
“In county Dalarna we tried getting members to speak up for the wolves in an interview with Sveriges Television but none of the 15 members we called felt that they dared.”
Marcus Kalén, 41, lives in a village not far from where Johansson was attacked. He’s an avid hunter, and among those who feel wolves need to be restricted to zoos.
“It’s hard for people from the cities to understand. Hunting and fishing are the only hobbies we have out here. If the wolves stay these become impossible. We don’t even dare release our dogs,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
Kalén doesn’t think that the wolf debate was behind the assault of Johansson, explaining to the paper that there’s no pressing wolf issue in the area right now.
But there are indications that violence and threats against politicians in Sweden have increased, and the National council for crime prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet, BRÅ) initiated a study to investigate just how comprehensive these crimes are, on the behest of the government.
According to the head of the unit for statistical surveys at BRÅ, Erik Grevholm, this is a common strategy used by the state when a problem is detected; to gather a comprehensive knowledge base about the problem.
“And it has become a problem in Sweden, one can easily establish that by just reading the newspapers,” Grevholm told The Local.