Sweden has allowed the hunting of 22 wolves early next year, in a decision criticized by hunters and conservationists alike.
Five county administrative boards in wolf country in the Svealand and southern Norrland regions agreed on Thursday that two wolves in Örebro and Gävleborg counties may be shot in next year’s licensed hunt, as well as six wolves in each county in Dalarna, Värmland and Västmanland.
“We think it’s way too little. Shooting two wolves, as in certain areas, does nothing. If you want to reduce the pressure you have to remove the entire territory, as was done in the last licensed hunt. We think it is wrong to abandon that principle,” Torbjörn Löwbom, chairman of the hunting association’s predator committee, told the TT news agency.
Rebecca Nordenstam, environmental lawyer for the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, said she was relieved the figure was lower than in 2015 and 2016, when more than 40 wolves were shot. However, she said she was still concerned:
“But we are still worried. You have to keep in mind that this is only the licensed hunt, then in addition there’s the protective hunt and the illegal hunt, which continue for the whole year.”
Neither organization has yet decided if they will attempt to appeal the decision in court. The wolf hunting season is otherwise set to take place from January 2nd to February 15th in 2018.
Sweden has a wolf population of around 355 animals, according to the latest estimates. Authorities have previously ruled the country should have a minimum of 300 wolves.
Hunters claim wolves have been decimating stocks of other game and threatening hunting dogs in rural areas. A back-and-forth battle saw Sweden resume the cull in 2010 and 2011, leading to a protest by the European Commission, which oversees European Union laws on protecting wolves and other endangered species. Subsequent culls have also been preceded by lengthy court battles.