Suspicions are swirling that someone is intentionally poisoning wolves in southern Norway. After a spate of illegal hunting and court cases to try to stop it, conservationists now fear the wolves are being baited with poisoned meat.
News bureau NTB reported last week that a male wolf found dead in Austmarka in Kongsvinger was examined at the state veterinary institute. Test results revealed several types of rat poison in the 40-kilo wolf’s liver. Veterinarians said their findings were alarming.
It’s at least the second time in as many months that poison has been found inside the cadavers of dead wolves. Another male wolf who was the leader of the so-called Østmarka pack of wolves in the hills of eastern Oslo was also found contaminated with three types of poison used in rat poison, when he was found sick and was shot to put him out of his misery.
“This is extremely serious,” Arnodd Håpnes of the environmental group Naturvernforbundet told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “Given the huge wave of hatred against wolves we’ve seen in the region after wolves attacked sheep, it’s easy to think that illegal poisoned bait has been laid out.”
Are Hedén, county environmental chief, has asked hikers and others to be on the lookout for anything resembling bait laid out in local forests. “We must find out whether poisoned bait is the reason this has happened,” he told NRK after the first sick wolf was found in April.
Police have been alerted and investigated claims that someone is laying out bait to kill the wolves, when the otherwise protected species can’t be hunted. Police have not managed to document any poisoned baiting so far.
The wolf found dead near Kongsvinger was not marked and was not registered by researchers following developments within Norway’s wolf population.