Open season on rare wolves

Government allows hunters to shoot wolves in Norway

source: New Scientist vol 185 no 2483, January 22 2005 p4

Conservationists are concerned about a decision by the Norwegian government in early January 2005 to allow hunters to shoot five grey wolves before February 15 2005. The total wolf population in Norway is estimated at some 25 individuals. There is a protection area for wolves in south eastern Norway, where hunting wolves is banned, but wolves can be shot if they leave this area. The protection area was also reduced to 50% of its previous size in 2004. Hunting wolves is supported by sheep farmers. They lose some 30,000 sheep annually to lynxes, bears, wolverines and wolves, with wolves estimated to be responsible for 2,000 of these sheep losses.

There are some 100 wolves in Scandinavia as a whole. At one time, wolves were extinct in Scandinavia, but the species was revived by a pair which came to Scandinavia in 1978, from a pack that included parts of Russia and Finland in its territory.