The Swedish wolf population seems to be left on the lower level that was established last year. According to the latest results, 34 family groups recorded in the country this winter, representing 340 individuals.
It is exactly the same number of wolves last winter. Certainly not this year’s seasonal inventory completed – it runs until March 31 – but no major changes are not expected.
“There are likely to be no wolves, but not so many. Some giant changes are not expected. The end result will probably be much like last year,” says Inga Ängstig, director of Viltskadecenter that coordinates inventories of large predators in Sweden.
This means that the wolf population has not recovered the land that was dropped from before last and last winter.
During 2014-2015 recorded 415 wolves in the country – the highest number since the mid-1800s – but from 2015 to 2016 been included only 34 family groups which corresponded to 340 individuals, a decline of 18 percent.
The reason, according to most analysts, was the extensive hunting during 2014-2015. During the period, 75 wolves were killed legally and also exposed the strain normal to extensive poaching. Wolves can tolerate a fairly high taxation, but exceeds 30 percent mortality rate reduces the strain.
Since then, the number of wolves killed fell. But the firing has apparently been sufficient to prevent a recovery to previous levels.
“It is obvious that the illegal hunting is very widespread in some areas, for example in Dalarna,” says Tom Arnbom, head of the predator issues at WWF.
He doubts whether there will be any licensed hunting of wolves next winter.
“There is a risk that the courts are wearing. First, it is doubtful that the wolves are enough, and has many genetically important immigrant wolves disappeared lately.
Another factor that may complicate the situation is that a new calculation method for calculating the wolf population may soon be introduced. So far it has been calculated that each family group corresponds to approximately ten wolves in the population, but the new findings suggest that this gives an overestimation of the number of wolves. A conversion factor of 8.0 instead of 10.0 is recommended by several researchers. In that case, the current number written down 340-272.
“It will have consequences for the wolf hunt,” says Arnbom.
Fact: The wolf
Wolf were originally over Sweden except Gotland. It was common until the 1850s but then declined rapidly because of fierce persecution.
The decline continued until 1966 when the species was protected. Fridlysningen came almost too late, when only a handful of wolves remained, and the species was extremely close to extinction until the early 1980s when a wolf pairs started to breed in Värmland.
In the early 1990s, the number of couples and since then the population has increased from about a dozen individuals to peak 415 wolves the winter 2014-2015. Then the number has decreased slightly, to about 340 wolves.
The minimum level for the Swedish population has been set at 300 animals.