Norway’s Labour-Center government is appealing a court decision handed down over the weekend that extends an earlier temporary ban on this winter’s hunt targeting four packs of wolves. The state was also ordered to pay court costs for the environmental and animal rights organizations that sued to halt the hunt.
The organizations had complained that the state license authorizing the hunt in zones set aside for the wolves is invalid. The Oslo County Court issued an unusual ruling on Sunday that halts the hunt at least until an appeal of another contested hunt is heard in June.
It’s a huge relief for those trying to protect Norway’s small if growing wolf population. “The state should take this as an important signal that they should improve their management of endangered predators,” Siri Martinsen, leader of the animal rights group NOAH, told news bureau NTB. WWF was also pleased, calling the court’s decision “the only right thing to do” until the courts further clarify how far the state can go in permitting wolf hunts.
The state had agreed to let hunters kill 25 wolves in the Hornmoen, Rømskog, Bograngen and Slettås packs. The farmers and landowners backing the hunt objected to a temporary injunction against the hunt in December and now mightily to the court decision. They support the state’s appeal, claiming the court is effectively turning wolf zones into nature reserves, and that free-grazing sheep and people living in areas where wolves now roam will “pay a high price” this summer.