Conservationists blocked forest roads and demonstrated during the weekend in efforts to once again halt a winter wolf hunt. They were “shocked” that a Norwegian appeals court had allowed the hunt to resume, clearing the way for hunters to kill up to 25 of the animals that are either loved or hated.
Farmers and landowners were jubilant, however, and those hunting on their behalf managed to shoot 10 wolves by Sunday evening. Norway’s Labour-Center government had authorized the hunt late last year but it was halted after animal rights groups NOAH, WWF and Foreningen Våre Rovdyr (an association to protect predators) sued and won in the Oslo County Court.
The state appealed, however, and prevailed on Friday, allowing the hunt to resume early Saturday. Siri Martinsen, leader of the animal rights organization NOAH, told news bureau NTB that she was “shocked” by the appeals court decision. So were many others who headed out to hunting grounds in eastern and southern Norway to block roads and even pour glue onto the booms that close off roads, to prevent them from being opened and allowing hunting convoys in.
Now the farmers’ organizations, keen on protecting their free-grazing sheep, are also trying to extend the hunt. They claim they lost around five weeks of it because of the legal challenges.
Labour’s minister for the environment, Espen Barth Eide, was harshly criticized for giving in to Labour’s government partner, the farmer-friendly Center Party, which always wants to kill off as many natural predators in Norway as possible. Eide defended his controversial decision to appeal the initial court ruling, claiming the hunt is in line with “balanced” management of Norway’s wolf population, currently estimated to number less than 100.