Norwegian government could lose voters over wolves

Support for Norway’s Conservative (Høyre) party, the largest party in the country’s coalition government, has dropped by seven points in some areas.

Norwegian government could lose voters over wolves
Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

The pole, carried out by InFact on behalf of broadcaster NRK along with a number of local newspapers, shows a swing away from the party in both Hedmark and Oppland counties.

Høyre’s main parliamentary candidate for Hedmark County Kristian Tonning Riise told NRK that he believed the lost ground could be the result of a recent debate on control of wolves in Norway, in which a parliamentary proposal on wolf control was not supported by Høyre, resulting in the culling of 47 wolves being reduced to 15.

Support for the party has dropped by seven percent in both Hedmark and Oppland, according to the poll.

Tonning Riise told the broadcaster that one of the reasons could be the debate over wolves which took place over the course of the winter.

Many people were unhappy that a parliamentary proposal on wolf control was not supported by Høyre’s environment minister Vidar Helgesen.

“When Høyre loses voters there is a small transfer to other parties, but even more who are sitting on the fence. The effect has probably been a bit greater in Hedmark, where the wolf issue was one thing that created frustration with us,” said Tonning Riise.

According to the poll, the main winner in the swing of support is the agrarian Centre Party. Support for the nationalist Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), the other party in the coalition government, halved in the two counties.

The two parties, along with Labour (Arbeiderpartiet) and the Christian Democrats agreed on a new wolf deal outlining population sizes in March.

READ ALSO: Norway's wolf population nearly doubled

Lise Berger Svenkerud, leader of the Høyre party in Hedmark county, told NRK that she did not believe wolves would still be a key issue come the general election in September this year.

“I don’t think, when it comes down to it, that this will cause people with a considerable preference for Høyre to change viewpoints when they go to the polls. We have so many other good policies, and that is what people will notice,” said Berger Svenkerud, who, along with Tonning Riise, took part in a January march against the government’s policy on wolves in Oslo.

“The wolf issue has been difficult for us, and is possibly a mark of arrogance that many have reacted to. But I think that many have noticed that we in Høyre Hedmark have been quite prominent on this issue,” said Tonning Riise.

Sheep will soon be released for pasture in the region, reports NRK, and there could be consequences for the election if the lack of a wolf cull results in many farm animals being killed.

“I hope people see that we have been prominent, and that when you vote it is representatives in the regional parties that are being voted for. I hope those that have followed the wolf issue can see that I and others on the Hedmark list have been clear on this,” Tonning Riise said.


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.

READ ALSO: Disputed wolf hunt in Norway was legal, court rules