Govt investigator on wolf issue peter Egardt. Photo: Scanpix

New proposal: More wolves can be shot

The government appointed investigator into the controversial wolf hunting issue in Sweden, Peter Egardt, has submitted his proposals for a solution which seems to have pleased all sides. Egardt's wolf committee has involved 9 organisations representing all those with an interest in the predators issue: conservation organizations, hunters, Sami and farmers.

Egardt proposes that a strictly regulated wolf hunt should be allowed in Sweden, although the politicians should not be involved in what constitutes a healthy wolf population.

Peter Egardt presented his draft of 40 proposals to the government this morning. Top of the list of recommendations, to the delight of the hunting lobby, farmers and reindeer herding Sami, that a licenced wolf hunt should be allowed to take place in Sweden , and the whole bureaucracy involved in issuing licenses to kill wolves threatening livestock, should be speeded up through a variety of new measures.

To appease those opposing the hunting of wolves, the proposal to take away from the government the responsibility to decide upon the number of wolves killed in a cull - instead the figure will not be set by politicians but by authorities with the help of researchers, who will take into account the minimum number of wolves viable to sustain a healthy population within favourbale conservation status. That means far more than 100 minimum of today.

"As long as wolves are within this range it is all fine and dandy, says Peter Egardt.

"If there are more wolves it will be possible to allow licensed hunting. If there are fewer wolves, you have to consider measures to strengthen the wolf population."

The wolf committee proposes that when an acceptable population figure has been reached, only wolves who are tagged not "genetically valuable" to the whole gene pool can be culled.

On the other hand, farmers with livestock have long complained of the difficulty in getting permission to shoot a wolf that has been killing their sheep. Today, Peter Egardt proposed that the process of getting a permit will be speeded up.

"Even after the first wolf attack, a decision should be made. This is in areas involving reindeer herding, pasture use and islands in the archipelago where it will also be easier to get permits for the hunting of wolves, then we propose a number of simplifications in the case of all other culling to make it easier and quicker to make decisions,"

Reaction to the proposals have been positive from both sides.

"I think it's really good that we will get an easier management of protective hunting. It is a necessity, so that people can protect their animals and their property," says Torbjörn Lövbom, chairman of the Swedish Hunters Association.

He believes that it is very important that the government takes up the question for a long-term policy.

"We have lived for several years now in some sort of vacuum, where we have not been able to manage wolves in a good way and this is unsustainable."

Mikael Karlsson is chairman of the Society for Nature Conservation and is satisfied with the proposals.

"It's good to get an objective assessment of what level the wolf population is to come up to. Then we must accept that sometimes you may have to hunt on the way there. But if it is done without affecting obstructing the wolf strain then it is a positive development, I think it's good enough," he says to Swedish Radio News.

Under the proposals, the county administrative boards get to decide on any licensed hunt and also any amount of compensation, which should be equal across the country. At the same time the prevention of wolf attacks will be given more resources, including methods such as building fences.

The controversial wolf hunt has received repeated scrutiny from the EU which claims that the wolf population in Sweden is too small, and this year the annual hunt was cancelled.

Last month, speaking to Swedish Radio News, Joe Hennon, spokesman for the European Environment Commissioner said that Sweden had not presented a credible plan for the long-term development of the wolf population.

The issue has provoked strong feelings with farmers and Sami reindeer hunters claiming that the wolf is a threat to their livestock and reindeer herds while others maintain that the Swedish wolf is an endangered species.

Last year, Skåne saw the most wolf attacks on domestic animals in the country.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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