Norway to cull a quarter of its wolf population



Posted on 21 January 2005  | 
Oslo, Norway – WWF opposes the hunting of Norway's wolves, following a decision by the Norwegian Directorate for Nature to kill five individuals — a quarter of the country's total wolf population.

The Directorate has granted licences to hundreds of farmers to kill the wolves as a measure to prevent the loss of domestic livestock, primarily sheep. On January 15th, one of the marked five — a female — was shot.

“If the Norwegian Environment Minister does not stop this hunt, he will have the dubious honour of allowing the regular hunting of a nationally endangered species," said Rasmus Hansson, head of WWF-Norway.
 
The wolf (Canis lupus) became a protected species in Norway in 1973 and is cited on their red list of endangered species as 'critically endangered'. The Norwegian Ministry of the Environment is ultimately responsible for ensuring that there are viable populations of all red-listed species. 

Only last May, the Norwegian Parliament decided on a national goal of sustaining at least three family packs. The current hunt will reduce the number of packs to two, a clear breach of a parliamentary directive. 

In 2001, there were an estimated 50–80 wolves in the southern part of Norway and Sweden, consisting of several families. In that year, the Norwegian government approved the culling of 8 out of its 25 wolves. Today, there are reported to be only 20 left in Norway.
 
"The culling of 20–30 per cent of a population this size is a serious threat to the survival of this species in Norway,“ Hansson added.

"This practice is contrary to internationally accepted standards for wildlife management. No other country that I know of has such an aggressive policy towards its wolves.” 

Sweden’s Environment Minister, Lena Sommestad, has severely criticised the hunt, accusing Norway of dodging its responsibility for safeguarding the Nordic wolf population. 

A recent scientific study of the wider Scandinavian wolf population counted a maximum of 120 individuals.

"There is a serious risk of genetic degradation in this population because of its small size," said Hansson.
 
"A genetically healthy population of this kind of carnivore should have at least 800 individuals."
 
For more information: 
Rasmus Hansson, Secretary General
WWF-Norway
Tel: + 47 22 03 65 14
E-Mail: rhansson@wwf.no
Close up of a wolf looking into the camera
A Norwegian cull of wolves will bring the national population below 20 individuals.
© WWF-Canon / Chris Martin Bahr Enlarge

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