Norwegian conservation authorities will likely work more closely with their Swedish counterparts in managing wolves that pay no attention to national boundaries. The result may be more wolves in Norway that do less damage in terms of attacking grazing livestock.
Erik Solheim, the government minister in charge of environmental issues in Norway, confirmed to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday that talks have been launched between Norwegian and Swedish wildlife authorities. The talks are aimed at forming fellow management of the wolf population that remains threatened but which ranchers fear.
The ranchers’ traditional style of open grazing is not compatible with predators like wolves, and many ranchers, especially in the eastern county of Hedmark, feel there already are too many wolves wandering over the border to Sweden and forming new packs in Norway.
Solheim, however, remains keen on re-establishing wolves and retaining them as a protected species in Norway. His Socialist Left party (SV) has long been at odds with its partner in Norway’s coalition left-center government, the Center Party, which is far more sensitive to the interests of Norway’s rural districts and wants to strictly limit the wolf population.
Solheim told NRK that Norway and Sweden now are much closer to a formal cooperation on wolf population management. Even though many wolves in the border area wander back and forth between Norway and Sweden, there currently is no cooperation on wolf management policies.
“I think nearly everybody agrees that (a cooperation) would simply be sensible,” Solheim told NRK. “Everyone knows that the wolf doesn’t pay attention to borders. Wolves from Sweden can come into Norway and do great damage, and therefore it would help if can cooperate on this.”
Solheim concedes that the result can be more wolves in Norway but that they’d do less damage. An earlier variety that was allowed to establish in Norway, called Galventispa, was “genetically important for us” but attacked sheep in the Løten area. “Now we could take in wolves from a Finnish breed … which doesn’t do the same type of damage,” he said.
Those in the sheep business are skeptical, including the leader of the Hedmark Bonde- og småbrukarlag, Ståle Støen. “Sweden has completely different agricultural policies than Norway,” he noted, adding that “political forces” in Sweden want to build up a population of 500 animals, and that “collides” with Norwegian policies.
Støen agrees, however, that the Norwegians could gain better control through a cooperation with the Swedes. “It’s the male wolves who do damage,” he said, not young pups with their mothers.
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