Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sweden Blocks Wolf Hunt

A Swedish court gave animal right activists a temporary victory and saved the lives of countless wolves when it ordered a temporary ban on wolf hunting in parts of the country.  Activists were fighting a decision to authorize the culling of 46 wolves.  Two courts in Karlstad and Falun must evaluate whether the hunting permits are in conformity with EU environmental protections.  The country's EPA estimates there are 400 wolves in Sweden and recommends the population be controlled at that level by regulated hunting.  The season was set to begin January 2 and end on February 15th. Hunters argue the wolves are decimating other game animals such as moose and killing domestic animals.

The wolf has been protected in Sweden and is making a healthy resurgence.  So much so, farmers are fearing for their livestock.  The government compensates farmers for their losses and subsidizes protective (electric) fencing.  The dispute over wolves and their place in modern Sweden is prominent enough to reach televised political debates.  When Sweden went ahead with its most recent cull of 44 wolves, it received a warning letter from the European Commission.  The EU's executive body says Sweden has not adequately considered alternatives and failed to show controlled hunts do not pose a threat to the species long-term survival.

Two intrepid wolves from Russia made the arduous journey from Finland or Russia looking for a suitable home in the 1980s.  They were joined by others in 2007 or 2008.  Their numbers grew over the years from just five animals to the point farmers began protesting their presence.  The first hunt began in 2010.  EPA officials maintain that only the genetically weak are culled; they claim they have DNA from about 90% of Swedish wolves, but such reassurances are dismissed by advocates who say a sustainable wolf population should number 1500 to 3,000 to insure healthy genetic diversity.  They refer to stories of  wolf threat as "Little Red Riding Hood" tales; a human has not been killed by a wolf in 200 years in Sweden.  A spokesman for the Wolf Association of Sweden says, "the hate against the animal, a species such as the wolf, is like racism in people--it is absolute the same process of mind."  Indeed.