The shameful War against
Wolves in Sweden and Scandinavia
partly biased background information concerning the present wolf slaughter in
by Eva Stjernswärd
Board member of NGO
Jaktkritikerna (Hunting Critics) and Dris (Animal’s Voice in Society) against
licensed hunting in Sweden.
The current hunt in 2022 is more cruel than usual as the different
local County Boards are cooperating to eradicate whole wolf families from their
territory and habitat. Norway (A non EU-country where the hunt for 54 wolves
can go on until 31st of May) and Sweden are cooperating with each
other in this grotesque extermination, creating a wolf holocaust. On the
Swedish side nearly 2 000 hunters have registered to kill 27 wolves.
Finland will also started a hunt for 18 wolves on February 1st. So in Scandinavia more than 99
wolves will be slaughtered in the most gruesome ways in 2022.
Wolves and other predators were almost eradicated because of human
persecution toward the end of the 19th century. In the early part of
the 1900’s, the romanticism of nature as well as people moving in to urban
areas helped to awaken an appreciation of a diverse fauna. Even the hunter’s association
helped to protect certain species. But unfortunately in the late 1930’s the
hunters association was nominated by the state to be responsible for wild life
management and they were granted huge economic resources, which coupled the
state and hunting interests, copied from a model then being utilized in
authoritarian Germany. This model is still valid and renders them a budget of
approximately 5.6 million dollars each year. This has created an institution that
exerts control over wild life as well as being a lobbying force infiltrating
the government and the political agenda for hunting on all levels. This is despite hunters only representing
less than 3 % of the population.
Why is there trophy hunting in
a developed country like Sweden?
Wolves were completely
protected from 1966 to save the species. But as we can see this has changed in
spite of being under the EU protection laws when Sweden agreed to enter the EU
in 1995. As from 2010 licensed hunting has escalated trophy hunting in Sweden,
as hunters can now kill bears, lynxes and wolves. Foreign hunters are welcomed
too. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency changed its strategy of wild
life management in favor of hunters after a string of political changes from
the end of the 1990’s. This escalated when hunters decided that predators,
especially wolves, should be viewed as competitors for other game that they
were hunting! This had a negative impact on all wild animals, but for predators
in particular, as they were politicized.
very unlike its cultural heritage and is now an industry with export ambitions. Not to mention the
extreme cruelty with which farmers are allowed to handle reindeers (Not as Nature intended – A book by
undercover journalist Rich Hardy). These semi-wild animals are transported to
slaughter houses in masses. Snowmobiles and helicopters are used to round the
animals up under stressful conditions. Although climate change is more of a
threat than predators, enormous financial support from the state keeps this
cruel business alive.
There is huge
financial support to reindeer owners/villages from the state to “accept” the
presence of predators in their land, as well as payment for each of their animals
taken by predators. However, this in no way protects the predators from
ultimately being killed. On the contrary; this has been proven by the increase
in so called protective hunting as well as illegal hunting. For wolves, this is
a lethal problem in additional ways; as the only path to genetic renewal actually
comes from Finland and Russia. No wolves survive if they enter Sweden. The hate
of wolves has become pathological when not even “stately bribes” can save them.
In some regions it’s like a reminder of the witch hunts that took place against
women in the seventeenth century.
The debate about the
degeneration in Swedish wolves has been unsuccessful in achieving any more
protection for them than other than token numbers.
In 2016 the Supreme
Administrative Court ruled that 300 wolves must be the minimum for conservation
of the species. Instead of this being a minimum - it is used as a maximum of
tolerance by the EPA and the hunters. Biological and scientific proof does not
help. The legal system is basing its judgement on this, which in general leave
the NGO’s appeal with hardly any success in saving individuals. The European
Commission has an open case against Sweden’s wolf hunt but nothing concrete has
been achieved yet.
violation of the EU’s Habitats Directive continues and by customizing its own
national loop holes and interpretation of the exception rules for limited
hunting, Sweden is also undermining the aim and purpose of the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, as export permits for all
trophies is easily granted by the Agricultural Board. On this note, its worth
mentioning that Swedish government refused to take up the ban on import of
trophies from canned lion hunts in 2016/2017, which would have been a low
hanging fruit. Unfortunately it shows that most politicians in all parties are
not at all engaged when it comes to animal protection, and definitely when
hunting is concerned.
Despite the Covid
pandemic the mink industry and industrial farming of pigs and chickens prevails
in horrible conditions in Sweden.
More than 7 000 red
listed predators have been killed in 20 years
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Naturvårdsverket,
has even increased the quota for legal trophy hunting. Since the year 2000 more
than 7 000 brown bears, lynxes, wolves and wolverines have been killed
legally in this system.
have an estimated 2 800 brown bears, not much over 1 000 lynxes and perhaps
600 wolverines. This is in a country with a low density of people in the areas
where predators naturally have their habitats. But predators have become chess
pieces on the political agenda. This polarization is based on predator conflicts
locally by hunters, livestock owners, reindeer keepers and of course the economic
interest groups behind them.
The system of
monitoring and counting wolves is done by local authorities and hunters. As the
wolf is considered not only to be a threat to livestock but as a competitor in
the hunter’s quest for wild game – it’s easy to conclude that the hunters want
to demonstrate as high a count of predators as possible.
In addition, humans
are diminishing predator’s territory in general, with exploitation of land for
livestock, especially the huge areas in northern Sweden where reindeers are
kept roaming free.
The number of wolves
is always debated and questioned as illegal hunting still counts for 10-20 %. When
the counting of individuals is done (1st October to 1st
March) these wolves as well as the animals killed in accidents or for other
reasons (killed in livestock conflicts for example) after this date, are not
accounted for. This means that wolves killed after 1st March and
until the following autumn, that is several months after, when the hunting decisions
are being made are not included! Some believe that there could therefore be
even less than 300 wolves.
The “precautionary principle” is not a Swedish forte
When it concerns
bears, wolves and lynxes, the “precautionary principle” is largely ignored.
The official number given
was 395 wolves when the authorities took the decisions to kill 27 to 33 of them
in 2022. Some local counties are even trying to extend the areas to be sure to
kill wolves that are trying to flee. This is what can happen on the border to
Norway (involving administrative boards in Dalarna, Värmland and Jämtland) and
it is repeatedly happening in the county of Gävleborg. Legally it should not be
allowed to change or extend hunting areas that were initially drawn up when the
decisions was made, in November/December. But the local administrative boards
of the mentioned regions above – are hard liners against predators, as are all
the northern regions. We do not know yet what the courts will say.
alarming - is the inbreeding and degeneration in Swedish wolves.
Many male wolves have
only one testicle (cryptorchidism) and autopsies of killed wolves show cruel
proof of hunters sadism – many have old wounds and lead ammunition in their
killed against the EU directives for protection of species. Labeled
license hunting and/or protective hunting
Both methods have increased since 2010. The
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has delegated the decisions to local
government boards in each county that houses predators. The protective hunting
orders are often given over the phone and mostly the animals are permitted to be
killed the same day. The time to challenge the decisions by NGO’s is therefore futile
and purely symbolic. These hunts are fast executions done by helicopter and snowmobile.
On the ground dogs are utilized to track them down if they try to hide in dens.
The heli-hunts might be inspired from American war-fare…and also what is
happening now in the US. Sadly these methods spread like a pandemic due to
globalization and hunters’ international organizations. Historically, Americans
started shooting African game from trains and cars in the era of the white hunters, also the time of the
Swedish baron Blixen (husband of author Karen Blixen) who guided all the rich
and famous on trophy hunting and killing tours in Africa.
So cruelty still takes
its toll in Sweden. Females with young are not spared. For example wolverine
females with cubs are permitted to be killed in their den. Female lynx with
cubs are killed from helicopter and the “ethics order” is to kill the
“children” before the mother…
The licensed hunt for
lynx takes place from 1st of March – which is the mating season of
the shy felines. A real crime! Our Nordic Leopard!
abuse does not include wild animals – only hunting laws are applied.
Swedish hunting laws
are based on the use of animals as objects - owned by the hunter and/or
landowner. State land/forests are also leased for hunting and its big business,
as well as for all the agricultural farmers who lease the right to hunt on
their land. Wild life has no respite. Not even in a National Park or nature
reserve, where EPA permits hunting. The sea is also a hunting ground and EPA is
extending hunting every year on all species of seals, even the very threatened
red listed species in the northern Baltic Sea.
self-assessed killing action
Legislation allows for
killing predators in situ, as a prevention method to stop an attack. This of
course is used without control from authorities and it can’t be excluded that
dogs often provoke bears for example, while hunting other game. And the most common argument from hunters is
that dogs are killed by wolves and that they cannot hunt elk as freely as they
want with loose dogs.
Needless to say, loose
dogs in wolves’ habitats should be prohibited – a NO GO.
Since 2010 this legislation
has been used with an alarming increase as the “excuse” to kill bear, wolves
and lynx. Very few cases lead to investigation and are annulled due to lack of
proof. The issue of animal abuse when killing a female bear for example (and
then discovering two cubs hiding in trees) or parental wolves leaving pups is
never punished or even discussed.
and the frequent wounding by hunters or dogs is never punished.
Cruel hunting with dogs
Pack hound hunting has
developed in Sweden and is becoming animal abuse for both dogs and wild animals
that is not addressed at all. Swedish hunters have also introduced new type of
aggressive hunting dogs, which are trained on predators. The Swedish
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mainly responsible for wild life and
hunting issues, has extended the rights to hunt with loose dogs – 3 dogs are
allowed to chase 1 wolf, it doesn’t matter whether a puppy or adult. The non-ethical
hunting methods also include old medieval ways of hunting with beaters and circling
the environment with “scary wires with moving textiles”, set up to enclose the
fleeing wolves and force them towards the hunters.
Training of hunting dogs in
the wild on predators in their habitat
The worst is that EPA
has introduced even more vile techniques – namely that all hunters can train
their dogs one month before the official hunting starts! Even in areas of
Sweden where the licensed hunt will not be granted.
This means training on
wild bears (with their cubs) in their habitats begins from July-August (hunt
starts 21st August), on wolves in December (hunt starts 2nd
January) and lynx in February (hunt starts 1st March). It is also
permitted to train dogs on captured wild animals in special training centers.
This sadistic practice is not addressed by the EPA, even though many protests
are heard from NGO’s. Simultaneously hunting with dogs terrorizes other
wildlife, like hunting for boar that is permitted nearly all year round as well
as night time.
Sweden’s hunting lobby
is firming its grip on all wild life and the legal system for hunting is rigged.
To spin the wheel of death the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has
liberated hunting even more on all animals, including migrating birds like
cranes and swans with a renewed decree from 2021 to 2026!