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

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Disputed wolf hunt in Norway was legal, court rules

The Oslo District Court ruled on Friday that wolf hunting licences granted last winter were legal in a decision that dealt a blow to the World Wide Fund for Nature's efforts to protect the endangered species.

Disputed wolf hunt in Norway was legal, court rules
File photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) had sued the Norwegian state in an effort to halt wolf hunting in the counties of Østfold, Oslo, Akershus and Hedmark.
The nature organization argued that the Ministry of Climate and Environment had violated the constitution, the Nature Diversity Act and the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats by granting licences to hunt wolfs in ares outside of the animal’s designated protect zones. 
Although Oslo District Court temporarily suspended the wolf hunts in November, the court on Friday rejected WWF’s claims and ruled that the hunts did not violate any laws. 
“It was a disappointment. But most disappointed of all are Norway’s wolves,” WWF-Norway CEO Bård Vegar Solhjell told NTB. 
Solhjell, a former environment minister, said that Norway’s wolf population is in danger. 
“This winter we shot more wolves than in the previous years under the Nature Diversity Act. We fear that this will weaken the population and wolf management in Norway,” Solhjell added, referring to the law passed in 2009. 
The wolf is a critically endangered species in Norway but government authorities allow what WWF calls “extensive culling”. The Ministry of Climate and Environment originally granted hunters permission to cull up to 50 wolves over the 2017-18 hunting season, but later revised that number down to 42. 
There are areas in Norway designated as protected wolf zones but according to WWF, these zones only amount to five percent of the country’s total land area. 
“This has created many conflicts,” the organization said in a press release. “Culling licences are quickly issued whenever a wolf finds itself on the wrong side of the invisible border.”
WWF was ordered to pay court costs totaling 454,430 kroner. Solhjell told NTB that the organization would accept the ruling and pay the court costs but indicated in the WWF press release that the fight may not be over. 
“We want the carnivore management to be based on scientific and experiential knowledge. This is not the case today. We have a politically decided wolf population goal that is not based on science and in addition functions as a maximum limit to how many wolves we are to have in this country,” he said. 
The Norwegian state was supported in the trial by the Norwegian Agrarian Association (Norges Bondelag), which has argued that halting wolf hunting would have adverse effects on food production. The Norwegian Forest Owners Association (Skogeierforbundet) and Association of Hunters and Fishers (Norges Jeger- og Fiskerforbund) also supported the state.