51,000 protest Norway wolf cull

Politicians’ move to kill wolves to help protect livestock sees considerable protest

Two Grey Wolves. Photo: Caninest / Flickr

Two Grey Wolves. Photo: Caninest / Flickr

Sarah Bostock & Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

It is expected that around 68 wolves roam in the wilderness areas of Norway, and as many as 47 will be shot under new plans.

The petition to stop the culling, which currently has 51,344 signatures, states that Parliament’s “extermination policy” plan could mean that 2017 could be “a fatal year for wolves in Norway.”

Parliament adopted a new population management goal of four to six breeding pairs of wolves in Norway in 2016.

Around two million sheep are left to graze in forests and mountains every year in Norway, and often left unsupervised. The Guardian reported that around 1,500 are killed by wolves, as 100,000 sheep will have died from poisonous plants, drowning, traffic accidents, and diseases.

With an estimated 12,000 wolves left in Europe, conservationists are concerned that the wolf population is already dwindling and that they are listed as “critically endangered” in Norway due to frequent culling.

The Norwegian Environment Agency believes the “relentless hunting” wiped out the population in 1960s and today’s wolves are descendants of those who entered into Norway from Sweden.

Norwegian agriculturally-oriented publication Nationen reported that it concluded that wolf numbers in Sweden have declined in recent years, but it is unsure regarding how the species has developed.

Nina Jensen, chief executive of World Wildlife Fund (Norway) says the losses to farmers from wolves had been minimal and the Norwegian parliament in 2004 and 2011 had agreed populations of carnivores must be allowed to co-exist with livestock.

“Shooting 70% of the wolf population is not worthy of a nation claiming to be championing environmental causes,” she told The Guardian.

Hunters were unable to kill these creatures without a license during 1973. Last year’s announcement by the government concerning hunting wolves saw 11,571 hunters registering for licenses to shoot 16.

Scientists argue that taking animals (including predators) and plants out of the environment will greatly impact all wildlife as they play “a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions,” National Geographic reported.

“Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.

A keystone species “plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions,” writes the publication.

Decisions made by Norwegian Regional Management Authorities regarding culling of wolves can be appealed to the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

Officials will handle complaints “with due regard to the Parliament’s decision on the population management goal, and will be consistent with the Berne Convention, The Nature Diversity Act, and the regulations regarding large carnivores in Norway,” it is stated.

According to them, the government is committed to ensuring wolves’ survival in Norway. “I acknowledge that this is a difficult and controversial matter. The final decision will be made on the basis of careful considerations. As the responsible minister for the appeals process I cannot comment further on the matter at this stage,” Vidar Helgesen said in the statement.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Oct. 7, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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