Wolves in Norway got a last minute reprieve when government officials dropped the cull numbers from 47 to 32.
Previous reports had announced Norway had planned a devastating cull on its wolf population, cutting number back by two thirds. This caused outrage as this would have left only 21 wolves remaining in the entire country.
Vidar Helgesen, minister of climate and the environment, refused to sanction the cull, saying lawyers at the justice ministry had concluded it would contravene domestic biodiversity legislation and the international Bern convention.
“It proves that pressure from environmental groups and public opinion matters,” said Silje Ask Lundberg of Friends of the Earth Norway. “Predator management in Norway has not always been based on sound knowledge. The Berne convention clearly states that endangered predators can only be culled if the individuals have been proven to cause extensive damage.
“That has not been the case with these wolves who over a period of six years have only been documented to kill 10 sheep, and that was due to a hole in a fence.”
Environmental groups attribute their victory not only to the wolf’s iconic status, but also to more than 70,000 Norwegians who signed a petition protesting against the proposed culling. The Norwegian government received 7,000 emails in both Norwegian and English, and the story made headlines around Europe.
Wolf conservationist Anneka Svenska states, “This would have been devastating for the population, as wolves need genetic diversity to be healthy and thrive. By culling this amount of wolves, it would force interbreeding and would also leave a void, attracting only more wolves from over the borders from Sweden and Finland.”
Anneka goes on to state that perhaps it is time that Norway considered ‘herd guardian dogs’ as a form of predator protection for sheep rather than this annual cull.
“There are many effective wolf deterrents other than culling, one being dogs used as guardians. To shoot the wolves instead of using more natural methods is ludicrous and shows that the government just is looking for a quick, cheap solution to their problems, which is sorely disappointing”
A remaining 15 ‘lone wolves’ wolves will still be hunted as they range over greater distances and are more prone to killing livestock, and environmental groups (sadly) have not objected to these being culled.
Sources: The Guardian and WWF