A police investigation is underway in Hedmark, the southeastern Norwegian county where farmers feel most threatened by wolves, after a local sheep rancher shot a wolf three times with a rifle early Tuesday morning. He claims he found the wolf in an area where his sheep were grazing, but police haven’t found any injured or dead sheep.
“The grounds for shooting a wolf (which remain a protected species in Norway) without legal authority in advance are that the wolf is caught in an attack, in this case on sheep,” prosecutor Henning Klauseie told state broadcaster NRK. There was no evidence of that actually having occurred.
Julie Dalsveen of the Inland Police District told NRK it was “too early to say” whether the farmer had met the criteria and fired to defend his animals.
“The wolf is clearly dead,” Klauseie said. “We’re told it was shot three times with a rifle. The first two shots were fired several meters away from the wolf, while the third shot was to kill it.”
The farmer himself declined comment on a case that’s bound to stir up new conflicts between conservationists keen on protecting Norway’s resurgent wolf population and farmers who want to greatly reduce the numbers of the once-nearly extinct wolves.
Both county and state authorites were alerted to the latest wolf shooting, while the dead animal was transported to the veterinary institute in Oslo. Tests were also taken to determine the wolf’s age, gender and to which pack it belonged. Several of the wolves in Norway roam back and forth over the border to Sweden, where wolves are also protected and more numerous.
Police need to determine whether there were sufficient grounds for the farmer to react as he did. The incident occurred at Sander in Sør-Odal.