NORWEGIAN WOLVES YEAR 2005

NEW CULLING OF NORWEGIAN WOLVES (2005)

A speaker at World Wild Fund's WWF's wolf symposium in 2002 in Vålådalen Sweden addressed Norway as the bad-boy regarding large carnivore conservation policy and bad-boy strikes again. The Norwegian Directorate for nature management opened for a culling of five wolves starting from Saturday the 8th of January this year. This constitutes approximately 25% of the amount of wolves in Norway. The total population within Norway counts about 20 individuals. It is not the first time Norway has reduced the number of wolves dramatically. In 2001 the Norwegian Directorate for nature management performed a culling where the Atnadal pack and the Imsdal couple were wiped by the use of helicopter (nine wolves). This time it is the Koppang pack that is the main target but in contradiction to 2001, the culling will not be performed by rangers paid by the government but by local hunters. The arrangement is that hunters within the local communities can apply for a license to participate in the culling. The local communities are the municipals of Stor-elvdal, Rendalen, Engerdal, Elverum, Løten, Åmot, Ringsaker, and Hamar where over 130 have applied for a license in the three first municipals and 178 in the five last municipals.

The habitat of the Koppang pack is within the municipals of Stor-elvdal and Rendalen. These two municipals provide perfect wolf habitat covering an area of over 5300 square kilometres. However, a scattered population of 5000 people in the two municipals enforces a non-tolerance policy regarding wolves. At this stage of the culling 22nd of January 2005 both the alpha male and alpha female have been shot. Additionally, the alpha female of the Gråfjell pack was shot by mistake leaving the Gråfjell pack without an intact alpha couple. Usually a pack without the leadership of an alpha couple will disperse. This means that there will only be one pack (family group) of wolves left in Norway.

Working for the protection of wolves in Norway is a very frustrating business and we are grateful for international support. Questions regarding wolf management and requests to stop the ongoing culling can be forwarded to the appropriate authorities within Norway through:

The Norwegian Ministry for the Environment the overall responsibility for conservation policy in Norway:

Postmottak@md.dep.no

Norwegian directorate for nature management the overall responsibility for execution of the conservation policy in Norway:

Postmottak@md.dep.no

Relevant questions are:

1. Why has the Norwegian authorities authorised this culling regarding the small number of wolves in Norway?

2. Why are vast areas providing perfect habitat for wolves such as the municipals of Stor Elvdal and Rendalen excluded from the zone that Norway has defined as the wolf management zone?

3. How can Norway claim to fulfil the obligations as agreed and defined in the Bern convention?

4. An extensive DNA analysis of the Scandinavian wolves has been performed revealing a high degree of inbreeding. Additionally, the Scandinavian wolves are more or less isolated from other wolves. How are these factors taken into account considering Norway's conservation policy with a minimum number of wolves?

5. Wolves have disappeared in Scandinavia and illegal actions have been revealed. Is this factor taken into account considering Norway's conservation policy with a minimum number of wolves?

6. Why does Norway initiate culling without sufficient planning regarding the impact of the culling (note that DNA materiel unique within Scandinavia was lost after the culling of the Atnadal pack in 2001 and an alpha female from the Graafjell pack was shot by mistake now in 2005)?

7. Conservation is a global responsibility and is the lack of will and ability to take responsibility for wolves the signals Norway wishes to send to the international community?

8. Has Norway implemented any sort wolf management plan apart from limiting the area where wolves are accepted and keeping the number of wolves to a symbolic figure through culling?

Read the 2002 story