An announcement late last week that Norwegian authorities would approve the hunting of 47 wolves this autumn and winter has been met with a barrage of criticism from abroad. Local environmentalists and conservationists are upset, too.
The large British newspaper The Guardian reported how the Norwegians were planning to kill off two-thirds of their wolf population, because of the threat the wolves pose to free-grazing sheep and other livestock. Norway’s biggest newspaper Aftenposten reported how The Guardian’s story generated reaction from around 22,000 readers, as did stories in Le Monde of France, Zeit of Germany, Russia Today and media in many other countries from Canada to India. The Daily Express in England called the wolf hunt a “massacre.”
Jens Frølich Holte of Norway’s government ministry in charge of environmental and climate issues told Oslo newspaper Aftenposten that the wolf hunt was a “challenging” issue for Norway. He admitted that most of the international reaction was negative, while trying to explain that the once-endangered wolves in Norway have bred more quickly than expected and are spreading to areas not viewed as “wolf zones” by wildlife authorities.
There are still less than 70 wolves in Norway at present, making the hunting quota a high percentage of the total wolf population. Norwegian critics were angry as well, with WWF’s local leader Nina Jensen calling the planned hunt a “mass slaughter” and Silje Ask Lundberg of Naturvernforbundet claiming that Norway should be ashamed of it.
The Norwegian Parliament has, however, restricted wolves to regional belts in southeastern Norway, mostly in Hedmark, Østfold and Akershus counties, which the authorities are charged with enforcing. Wolves straying beyond those zones risk winding up as fair game, under pressure from rancher- and farmer-friendly political parties such as the rural-oriented Center Party (Senterpartiet, Sp).