Several thousand Norwegians demonstrated in front of the Parliament in Oslo over the weekend, to protest plans by state officials to kill 47 wolves this winter. The planned state wolf hunt has also sparked protests from around the world.
Wolves nearly became extinct in Norway before state conservationists set about rebuilding the wolf population in specific areas, mostly along the border to Sweden in the southeaster part of the country. So-called “wolf zones” have been set up in counties including Hedmark, Oppland and Akershus and there now are an estimated 65 wolves in Norway.
Some have wandered outside the zones, naturally enough, and the planned hunt aimed at protecting Norwegian farmers’ free-grazing sheep would wipe out more than half the population.
Signs reading La ulven leve! (Let the wolves live!) and “Extinction is forever” were carried by the roughly 3,000 people who turned out for the demonstration. They included the secretary general of WWF Nina Jensen, the national spokesman and Member of Parliament for the Greens Party Rasmus Hansson and the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Ola Elvestuen.
“The wolves are part of Norwegian nature, and a major hunt for more than 70 percent of the current population will stir trouble,” Elvestuen said in his remarks before the crowd. “We’ll risk wiping out the entire species.”
Elvestuen also called the planned wolf hunt “extremely irresponsible” and a proposal that has brought “international shame” upon Norway “and weakened our credibility as an environmentally conscious nation.”
International protests and formal complaints from within Norway have been sent to the government minister in charge of environmental issues, Vidar Helgesen, who is now charged with making a ruling that could overturn the hunt. He has admitted that the issue is “difficult” for the government.
On Monday, meanwhile, newspaper Eidsvoll Ullensaker Blad reported that a wolf was observed in Nannestad and at Mogreina, not far from Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen. “We received the report Monday morning from reliable sources,” Ole Gunnar Willersurd, leader of the conservation agency in Ullensaker told the paper. He said there was reason to believe the wolf was heading south, at a rate of around 15-16 kilometers per hour.