Schultz Environment Blog

Environment in a broad sense,transports and energy issues. From my local point of view with a global touch!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf
Once upon the time there was a small country called Sweden in which a small population of wolves lived. Actually the wolf was almost extinct during the 1960-80 but suddenly some wolves were seen in the county of Värmland north of the big lake Vänern. Many hunters and reindeer owners were very satisfied with the extinction of wolf as they saw wolves as competitors. Although several wolves were shot illegally, the population grew very slowly. The Nature conservation organisations were very happy about the growth of the population but also worried as the scientists stated that the genetic variation in the population was too small and that new blood was needed. In 2009 it was decided by the government that licensed hunt should be carried out during the period 2nd of January and the 15:th of February 2010 and that 27 wolves should be killed. The last licensed hunt was in the 1960:s before the wolf was placed under protection. Since the beginning of 2000 there has been hunting only of specific individual wolves, if they have caused some special problems.
In this tale, our minister of environment Andreas Carlgren (whom by the way, has a slightly red tint to his hair), will symbolise the little red riding hood. He was on the radio today and declared that he would like the population to be not more than 210 individuals (that’s the goal the parliament earlier has set) and that the big threat against the population is the small generic variation of the population, i.e. the risk for inbreeding. He had difficulties explaining how a licensed hunt which would decrease the population by 27 individuals should help to prevent this from happening. At least one aim was reached, the hunters were pleased. The licensed hunt attracted around 12 000 hunters to hunt 27 wolves in 5 Counties. Isn’t this more like an implacable hatred hunt, than the hunters’ way of taking responsibility for the stock of game as for that of every other species? The hunt was not coordinated among the different Administrative boards which surveyed the hunt so as the hunters in one county shot more than their share; the hunt wasn’t stopped in the neighbouring county. Furthermore nobody actually knows if the “right” individual wolves were shot or if some alpha males were taken down. However, the minister of environment is still appears totally innocent and talks about how much he like to have a vivid population of wolves (but not more than 210 individuals) which is guarded by hunters and conservationists together.
The first day of the hunt 25 wolves were shot and then you should remember that hunting wolves is a very difficult kind of hunt, at least if you listen to experienced hunters. In the county I live all the 9 wolves cleared for hunting were shot the first day of the hunt.
Is it right or wrong to have a licensed hunt?? In the long run, and if the population establishes better and becomes more stable, a licensed hunt can be a possible way to guard and control the stock of wolves. I think this hunt came at this moment mostly because of the pressure from the hunting organisations and also that several County Administrative Boards saw licensed hunt like a problem solving measure. I mean that they saw it like a way to get rid of illegal hunting (of course there are also mostly responsible hunters in Sweden). I think Andreas Carlgren, the minister of environment, didn’t succeed in explaining how this licensed hunt contributed to a greater genetic variation in the population of wolves in Sweden or Scandinavia. Quite frankly, he is consequently loosing out in credibility.


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