Wolf hunt goes ahead in Dalarna
The wolf hunt in Dalarna started on Saturday. By lunchtime, three wolves have been shot, according to the news agency TT.
The regional administrative board, Länsstyrelsen, decided in December that eight wolves were allowed to be shot in Dalarna County. But the decision was appealed, and the Environmental Protection Agency reversed the decision, since it deemed not all criteria for a licensed hunt were fulfilled.
A new decision was made in the middle of this month, regarding seven wolves and two areas in Dalarna. Also this decision was appealed, but this time the Environmental Protection Agency deemed the decision was correct, and the hunt could start as planned.
There are currently wolves being hunted also in Värmland and Örebro counties. In Örebro, 11 out of the 12 wolves included in the licensed hunt quota have been shot. One wolf, shot on Wednesday, will not be counted towards the quota since it was found to have scabies, and was therefore not part of the licensed hunt. In Värmland 18 out of a quota of 24 wolves have been shot.
This is the first time in three years that wolves are hunted in Sweden. The planned licensed hunts in 2013 and 2014 were stopped in the courts. But last year, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to delegate the decisions on wolf hunts to the regional boards, making itself the only body where the decisions could be appealed.
This change of procedure has since been appealed in an administrative court, by an organisation that claims such a procedure would break EU-law. The administrative court decided this year's hunt could not go ahead until this matter was solved. But this decision was then, in turn, appealed and last week it was overruled in an administrative court of appeal.
The case is now in the highest court of appeals, which is expected to give its judgement in the coming week. Swedish Television News reports that this year's quota is most likely to be fulfilled before the decision is made. Last week, the EU-commission's spokesperson in environmental issues, Enrico Brivio, expressed regret that the legal situation was not clarified before the hunting season started.
If the commission deems that Swedish authorities have acted improperly, Sweden will be given a warning. "if it is against the law, the case can be brought to the EU court," Enrico Brivio told SVT.
In the past, the EU-commission has criticised Sweden for not doing enough to protect the Swedish wolf population. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are approximately 370 wolves in Sweden, 50 of which sometimes cross over the border to Norway.
According to a decision in parliament, the Swedish wolf population should consist of at least 270 wolves. But the decision is controversial, and the Green Party, which part of the current government, is critical of a licensed wolf hunt.
In October, the Environment minister Åsa Romson, of the Green Party, told the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, that she has told the Social Democrat Minister for Rural Affairs about their criticism. "But the Minister for Rural Affairs has chosen not to listen to this. We are disagreeing in the matter," she said.