Wolf – Photo: Kasper Høglund
Few if any animals in Norwegian nature have been the subject of as much attention as the wolf. The fronts between opponents and advocates for wolves are steep and both sides are firmly on their side.
To curb this, the Norwegian authorities have taken a number of steps. Among them, they have created "wolf zones" where it has been decided that you must have wolves. They have also adopted an absolute minimum of how many wolves we should have in the country and how many cubs we should have as a minimum. Norway has also joined and implemented international conventions for the conservation of natural diversity. All this actually sounds good, Norway is in control and pursues a "strict but fair predator policy".
It is now time for the annual withdrawal of wolves, and farmers and anti-wolf activists have worked hard to promote their anti-predator views. Unfortunately, they have won so far: 59 wolves are to be shot in this year's license hunt, and with that they have actually decided to shoot more wolves than were registered as all-Norwegian in the status report for wolves. If you look at the total number of wolves we share with Sweden, you should shoot over half of the total. One thus completely disregards the fact that the wolf is a red-listed species which, with the current population, only has barely a 50% chance of surviving as a species in Norway.
Despite Norway has implemented the Bern Convention in our legislation, but it seems that it is not being followed up in practice. The Natural Diversity Act states that we must have our own viable tribes of wolves in Norway. We do not have that, and with the current policy we are not close to achieving the international obligations Norway has signed up to. We cannot accept this, and we now demand that the politicians follow up on our commitments regarding viable species diversity in Norway.
The wolf is part of our ecosystem, and is important for regulating deer game populations. The worst, and most unacceptable thing about this is that 28 of the 59 wolves to be killed will be shot inside the wolf zone. These are wolves that do minimal damage to livestock, and are located where the Storting has decided that they should live. The wolf zone only covers 5% of Norway's land area, and all wolves outside the zone are free game for hunting. Therefore, as a minimum, we must be able to demand that the wolves living in the wolf zone should be allowed to live in peace. The winter's planned hunt can hardly be called anything other than an attempt to eradicate the wolf from the Norwegian fauna!
The wolf population in Norway has in recent decades slowly built up from only a few individuals and some parts of the population have had an undesirable degree of inbreeding. Several of the packs that have now been decided to be killed are precisely the packs that are in the best genetic condition and thus very important for a continued healthy and disease-free wolf population. This is not the first time that genetically important animals have been prioritized for euthanasia. New and genetically important individuals have an annoying tendency to disappear, either as a result of urgent decisions and shooting in the name of the Norwegian Nature Conservancy or as victims of "shoot-shovel and shut up" where the animals simply disappear without a trace. It is almost as if one can wonder if the sum of this evidence is directed to weaken the population as much as possible.
We can't have it like this.
We need nature management we can trust in Norway,
which sees nature as a whole, primarily for nature's sake. A nature management that primarily tries to satisfy human needs, business and strong lobbyists is doomed to failure. And the big loser in the end is man, who is ultimately totally dependent on a functioning and holistic ecosystem.
And in a holistic ecosystem, both the wolf and our other predators belong!
With best regards
Ruben M Oddekalv
Head of the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association