Hunters authorized to shoot a wolf that’s believed to have killed more than 100 free-grazing sheep this summer think they succeeded during the night. They claim they shot a large female wolf in Østre Toten, just as she was stalking more sheep.
“It’s hopefully the one that’s been ravaging flocks all summer,” Kjell Bakken, leader of the hunting team, told Norwegian Broadcaster (NRK) Monday morning. “This is a great relief. It’s been a tough summer, not least for those using the open grazing areas and for us hunters.”
More sheep attacked Saturday
Bakken said that “many” more sheep were attacked Saturday night, “so we fanned out with eight to 10 men” on Sunday night. A wolf was spotted around 5am while it was stalking more sheep in the area. “Then it was shot,” Bakken said.
Wildlife authorities from the state agency SNO told NRK that he also believes the wolf shot at Bergsund in Østre Toten is the same wolf that has attacked grazing sheep in Hurum, Hadeland and Toten since June. Wolves remain under protection orders as an endangered species in Norway, but the extent of the attacks prompted authorities to allow the unusual summer hunt, when it’s also more difficult to track the wolves than it is in winter.
The hunt took place after a winter of angry complaints from farmers and some hunters who wanted to hunt more wolves and accused the conservative government coalition of allowing Norway’s wolf population to become too large. On Friday, Agriculture Minister Jon Georg Dale met once again with famers in Hurdal and vowed that the attacking wolf would be “taken out.”
‘Incredibly cute’ Østmarka pups spotted
Wildlife authorities, meanwhile, have confirmed that a new wolf pack has established itself in Østmarka, the forest area bordering Oslo’s east side. Brothers Tor Anders and Ivar Knai, encountered two of the pack’s wolf pups while out canoeing and hiking late last week.
Instead of being afraid, the brothers told NRK that the pups were playful, “incredibly cute.” and should be assured of their place in the nature. “There are at least 15,000 wolves in Europe and no one is ever attacked or killed,” Ivar Knai told NRK. “And wolves often like being near settlements, just like foxes and badgers do.”
The brothers, both hunters and one of whom is a farmer himself, claimed that instead of shooting wolves to protect Norway’s free-grazing livestock, the grazing traditions should be changed instead. “I’ll never say a bad work about sheep ranchers, but the state promoted open grazing at a time when we had a predator-free nature,” Knai said. “Now the state needs to be better a restructuring the sheep business to conform to the return of the wolf.”
Neither brother, both in their 50s, can understand why many hunters have also joined the farmers’ and Center Party’s call to kill more wolves. They grew up hunting deer, birds and grouse “but as a hunter I think that we, more than anyone, must understand that all species must be allowed to be part of nature and a well-functioning eco-system. We should only hunt the surplus animals. Most hunters understand that.”