Hunters in Norway have been sentenced to jail, putting the Scandinavian wolf issue in the spotlight.
Five men in Norway have been sentenced after being convicted of planning to hunt wolves through trapping. The men were accused after a police operation tapped their phones and became suspect of their plans. All methods of wolf hunting in Norway are illegal. This conviction for wolf hunting marks the first the country has ever seen.
At least one man, who claims he mistakenly shot a wolf on a fox hunt, will appeal the conviction. The prison sentences for the five men vary from six months to 20 months.
Sheep farming takes up a large percentage of the land in Norway and many support wolf hunting or culling as a means of safeguarding their sheep and sheepdogs.
Wolf population estimates in Norway vary between sources but many believe there could be less than 30 still in the country, making it the home of Europe’s smallest wolf population. According to a study by environmental monitoring group Rovdata, last winter around 36 wolves lived in Norway with an additional 39 crossing over from Sweden. The packs live in the country’s dense eastern pine forest near the Swedish border.
Up until the 1970s, Norway essentially had an open season on wolves — perceiving them as a threat to livestock and towns. In the 1990s, an effort was made to restore some measure of the country’s wolf population by introducing a few dozen wolves in partnership with Sweden.
Wolf populations across the rest of Europe show stable or rising trends. A Journal Science study last year put population estimates around 12,000 wolves throughout 28 European countries with numbers rising each year.