Photo credit: mybulldog/Creative Commons
Last year, Sweden ended a 45 year ban on wolf hunting, allowing 27 wolves to be killed during a short open season. The goal was to control the animal's population by reducing it from 237 individuals to 210.
This year, the hunt has commenced once again, this time with an allotment for 20 wolves. In the first two days of the hunt, 14 wolves have been killed—and the European Commission has questioned the legality of the program.Sweden's cull, it is argued, violates prohibitions against hunting of a species threatened with extinction.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik explained in a statement:
The actions of the Swedish authorities leave me with little choice other than to propose to the Commission that it begin formal proceedings against Sweden for breach of EU environmental law.
The issue, Potocnik believes, is that the genetic base for the wolves in Scandinavia is too poor to allow for regular culling. Furthermore, Sweden's 200 wolves represents the majority of the species in the region.
Sweden, Potocnkik said, has been aware of the Commission's concerns over the legality of the hunt for some time. Though promises have been made to support wolf conservation in Scandinavia through translocation of individuals from other parts of Europe, no action has been taken.
Swedish hunters argue that the growing population of wolves threatens dogs and livestock.
A similar cull held in Finland was brought to court in 2007, but ended in a partial victory for hunters.