Sweden’s Wolf Cull

Shortly after I had scheduled the text below to be my post for 9th February, I read that the cull had been called off because of a legal challenge by conservationists.  I am glad the cull has been suspended – although three wolves had already been killed – but have kept the original text as I believe the Swedish government’s actions are worth highlighting.

Wolves - such a magnificent animal.

Wolves – such magnificent animals.

The UK Wolf Conservation Trust has highlighted that yet again Sweden is culling wolves despite protests by conservationists and the EU.  Last year 6,747 hunters were registered to kill 20 of the total Scandinavian wolf population of about 250.  This year 16 wolves are to be culled and the current population is reported by the BBC to be at least 270.

It should be remembered that Sweden’s wolves are protected under EU law.

Sweden’s wolf population is isolated genetically and there have been calls to try and encourage wolf migration in order to freshen the gene pool, however, given the current Swedish government’s policy of culling wolves, such a move looks unlikely for the foreseeable future.

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The Wolf in Sweden

WolfThe wolf: a stunningly beautiful animal, sadly missing from the UK.  If a Swedish political party, the Nature Democrats, gets its way, the wolf will not exist in Sweden.

The Nature Democrats – an inappropriate name – is a single issue party, the eradication of wolves in Sweden.  It is reported that Dagens Nyheter has said, “We want a zero-tolerance policy in populated areas of the countryside, let’s put it that way. But to say that we want to shoot all wolves would be be brutal.”

The head of Nature Democratic, hunter Marcus Werjefeldt, has said, however, “We don’t want to eradicate wolves. We just don’t want them in Sweden”.

On the plus side, wolves in Sweden are protected under the Bern Convention and a wolf hunt earlier this year led to the country facing legal action from the EU; in the end Sweden abandoned its plans to avoid a lengthy court battle.

Sweden Unleashes 6,747 Hunters Onto 20 Wolves

I read with incredulity the recent WWF report that Sweden’s second cull of endangered wolves has seen 6,747 hunters register to kill 20 of the total Scandinavian wolf population of about 250; roughly 27 hunters per wolf or 337 hunters per kill.

Swedish forests hold the majority of Scandanavia's endangered wolf population

© Staffan Widstrand/WWF

Apparently, the first cull of 27 wolves last year was justified on the basis that the hunt would create acceptance for the wolf in Sweden yet opinion surveys have shown that a majority of the Swedish people are already positive to the wolves in rural areas, with the main opposition coming from hunters themselves using loose dogs and sheep farmers.

According to the correspondence between the European Commissioner for Environment and the Swedish Minister of Environment, hunting of the wolf in the EU is strictly prohibited, with very narrowly defined exceptions not consistent with Sweden’s arbitrary limit for its wolf population.

Scandinavia’s wolf population is very vulnerable because of an extremely narrow genetic base, founded on only three animals which migrated in to Sweden between 1983 and early 1990. Two more wolves with “fresh” blood established themselves in 2008 but the population is extremely inbred and needs new wolves from Finland and Russia rather than culling.

Action Alert: The Annual Christmas Reindeer Slaughter

A recent WSPA investigation has exposed the suffering inflicted on herds of reindeer as they are rounded up, transported and slaughtered for their meat in Sweden and Finland.

Even if you do not watch the video below, please sign WSPA’s letter calling on members of the Nordic Council of Ministers to uphold the Växjö Declaration and enforce existing animal welfare laws. Thank you.

CAUTION: the suffering visible in the video below is not easy to watch

Illegal BASF GM Potato Found In Sweden

BASF has EU approval to grow a strain of GM potato called Amflora, however, Greenpeace has highlighted to the European Commission that BASF is growing the experimental Amadea variety in Sweden.

According to the redOrbit report, “human error” was the cause of  the Amadea variety being grown in Sweden – the European Commission was told by BASF that the wrong seed was accidentally fed into the wrong tube.

The European Commission investigators want answers on quality control checks at laboratory level in Germany as well as fields in the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden where Amflora is grown. The European Commission will send a team next week to “clarify the magnitude of the contamination in all seed lots of Amflora,”

Marco Contiero of Greenpeace said BASF “has not answered if other countries also have this problem” and urged that all Amflora sites, starting with Sweden, be destroyed as a precautionary measure.

Regional authorities in northern Germany have already moved to ban Amflora, however, Swedish officials have only ordered that all potato fields planted on 11th June be cleared of Amadea but will allow Amflora plants to remain despite the contamination.

When it comes to GM, the best precautionary measure is not to allow such planting.  Time and again, EU citizens have said “no” to GM yet governments are still trying to persuade us to say “yes”.

The Seed Savers article from the New Internationalist is well worth reading as it highlights some of the issues with GM.