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Sweden will eliminate half of the wolves in its territory


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The majority of Riksdag MEPs want reduce the number of wolves in Sweden almost half of the current population, even if that means defying European regulations. The Swedish parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and the Environment agreed this weekend to reduce the minimum number of wolves in its territory from the existing approximately 300 to a maximum 170.

The decision was voted on by the Moderates, the Swedish Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Center Party, despite the fact that the measure does not comply with international agreements linking Sweden or the EU Habitats Directive, which aims to preserve and protect endangered species.

The agreed number of 170 stems from a 2013 Riksdag decision, when it decided that Sweden should keep at least 170 to 270 wolves to meet the requirements of the EU directive. Subsequently, the number of individuals had risen to around 400, “a figure derived from the wolf immigration from abroad and the genetic exchange with Norway, where there are another 85 animals and which is not subject to the regulations because it does not belong to the EU”, according to the expert on predators of the government of the province of Västerbotten, Michael Schneider.

Lone wolves are relatively tolerated in all regions, Schnerider explains, but herds are decimated systematically both in the north, a grazing area, and in the south, where reindeer herding prevails. This means periodic rates of fire. The hunts have intensified this year due to various regional governments working together to eradicate entire herds and collaboration between the Norwegian and Swedish administrations. Almost 2,000 hunters they have been recorded on the Swedish side alone to kill 27 wolves. Finland has also launched a hunt for 20 wolves. Thus, in Scandinavia, in 2022, about 100 wolves will be slaughtered throughout this year.

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stipulated figure

Wolves were protected in Sweden starting in 1966 to save the species, but over the decades, due to increased depopulation of rural areas, their numbers have increased again. Since 2010, licensed hunting was extended to wolves and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency changed its wildlife management strategy in favor of hunters. The target figure of between 170 and 270 wolves, set in 2013, was modified in 2016 by the Supreme Administrative Court, which ruled that 300 wolves guarantee the conservation of the species in the country. The data has been taken at least by environmental organizations and at most by farmers, ranchers and hunters.

The Moderates, a right-wing party and the main opposition force, want reduce this number to 100, which is the “minimum viable population of wolves”, according to a study by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Green MP Maria Garfjell, however, argues that such a target is illegal. “The consequences are that it violates EU legislation against biodiversity, and could lead to Sweden being taken to EU courts,” she told Swedish radio. The moderates, for their part, are willing to defy the EU and pursue their goal regardless of the international agreements Sweden is bound by, according to party sources. “We’re prepared to stand up to the EU, to end the demands they have been making against Sweden for so long. We must put our feet on the ground and show that we have national influence over predator management,” the party’s spokesman for rural policy, John Widegren, told Swedish hunting magazine Svensk Jakt.

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According to the latest inventory by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, in 2020-2021 there were around 480 wolves in Scandinavia. At least 395 of them in Sweden. But these figures are disputed because illegal hunting still represents between 10 and 20%. In addition, when counting the specimens, from October 1 to March 1, animals killed after this date are not taken into account, either in accidents or due to conflicts with livestock. From March 1 and until the following fall the figure fluctuates uncontrollably. On the official number of wolves of 395, the authorities decided to kill between 27 and 33 wolves in 2022, a figure that is obsolete after the new resolution of the parliamentary commission.

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