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SE: Sweden hunts more wolves ‘to help genetic diversity’

Wolves in Europe being targeted again

February 2012. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has authorized the hunting of 16 wolves in what conservationists have described as a surprising U-turn.

According to WWF Sweden “It is a surprising decision that was not included in the management plan for wolves published as recently as last summer.

“This will constitute a complete U-turn compared from what Sweden’s Environmental Protection Agency said a few weeks ago when they announced that the hunt would not be allowed. Since no new scientific information has emerged, this U-turn is a mystery, says Håkan Wirtén, Secretary General of WWF.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has announced permission for “selective and targeted hunt of inbred wolves as a step towards reducing inbreeding and having a sustainable, healthy wolf population. A selective and targeted hunt is the only method that can reduce the level of inbreeding in the short term,” it said. Wildlife Extra questions how hunting solves an inbreeding problem. If the problem is bad, the wolves won’t thrive due to a lack of genetic diversity. There are currently no plans to bring wolves in from Finland or Russia, another way to boost the genetic diversity.

Wolves in Sweden

Estimates made in 2012 put the number of wolves in Sweden at around 270 in about 30 packs. Swedish wolves are almost all descended from 2 pairs that moved into Sweden some 30 years ago, and pro-hunting groups claim that some wolves need to be shot to improve the genetic diversity.

Moose hunting

More cynical observers point out that, as advocated by the King of Sweden recently, hunters don’t like competing with wolves for moose and other animals that they like to kill. Farmers also have an issue as the wolves do take some sheep, and in the north the reindeer herders have issues with the wolves too.

Sweden’s parliament voted to resume a licensed wolf hunt in 2010 after a 46-year hiatus, allowing 27 wolves to be killed. In January 2011, the European Commission reprimanded the Scandinavian country for its wolf hunt.