Norway government to allow last-minute wolf cull

Norway’s government has enraged animal rights activists with a last minute u-turn which will means hunters can cull wolves this hunting season.

Norway government to allow last-minute wolf cull
Wolves are unpopular with Norwegian farmers. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
Environment minister Vidar Helgesen on Wednesday said he aimed to rush through changes to a bill in parliament which will open the way for a limited cull before the end of the hunting season this March. 
“This is no carte blanche too completely shoot down the entire wolf population,” he told state broadcaster NRK. “But it gives a greater flexibility than we have today,” Helgesen told state broadcaster NRK.  
He told the NTB newswire that the final number of wolves which could be shot would be a matter for regional and national authorities to decide “on a case-by-case basis”.
He claims the new policy was modelled on that of Sweden and justified by  “science, culture, economy, recreation and biodiversity”.
The announcement marks the latest twist in the highly politicised battle that began when the government announced plans to give permits for 47 wolves to be shot last autumn.  
This sparked a furious reaction from animal rights activists, who pointed out that with only an estimated 68 wolves living in Norway, this represented two thirds of the entire national wolf population. 
The government backed down under pressure, with the Justice Ministry ruling that Norwegian law forbade such a large-scale cull.
After the number of permits was reduced to 15 in December, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, the leader of the agrarian Centre Party, successfully hijacked it as a populist campaign issue in the run-up to this September’s election. 
Rasmus Hansson, spokesman for the Green Party, sharply criticised the government's proposal, calling it the most “crazy” thing he had ever heard in Norwegian nature management.
“Now wolves have become an animal can be killed for virtually any reason. If one were to adopt similar criteria for hunting, logging and other natural destruction, Donald Trump would, perhaps for the first time in his life, be green with envy,” he said. 
The move was welcomed by Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers, however.  “This is what we have fought for, so we see this as a positive signal,” Knut Arne Gjems told NRK.


How many wolves are there in the Norwegian wild?

Almost 100 wolves are now known to be present in Norway.

How many wolves are there in the Norwegian wild?
Photo: Pexels

Just under 100 wolves have been confirmed as living in habitats in Norway.

Of these, between 34 and 41 cross the border with Sweden, while the majority live in designated “wolf zones” in the south east of the country.

A new status report mapping out the location of wolf populations in the country and in the Swedish border area states that there are now between 86 and 96 such animals in the country, news agency NTB reports.

The report was produced by the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences at the request of Rovdata, an agency which monitors numbers of predators in Norway’s wild.

The animals were counted between October 1st and January 27th, though some mapping work is yet to be completed, NTB writes.

According to the preliminary figures, between 50 and 53 wolves live only in Norway, while between 34 and 41 roam both sides of the Swedish border.

“The vast majority of the wolves are found in counties with wolf zones in southeastern Norway,” Jonas Kindberg, head of Rovdata, told NTB.

“Only three wolves have been detected in Norway outside of these counties,” Kindberg, added.

11 wolves were killed or registered dead during the period covered by the report.

The parliament in Oslo has passed regulation aimed to ensure that wolves must live in a designated region, the ‘wolf zone’, which runs adjacent to the border with Sweden in the counties of Hedmark, Akershus, Oslo and Østfold. Authorities set annual quotas for how many wolves must be shot to regulate the population size.

The Norwegian wolves predominantly feed on elk, which make up 95 percent of their food. But they also hunt deer, reindeer, and smaller animals like hares and birds.

Meanwhile, there are around 300 wolves in Sweden, according to figures from that country’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Stockholm has decided that the Sweden’s wolf population should be no smaller than around 300 individuals.

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