The licences to kill wolves in Norway increased from under 10,000 people in the 2013/2014 season to 11,571 in 2015/2016. As there are 16 animals to be shot this means a ratio of 723 people per animal. Wolf emerged as the most sought-after species for Norwegian hunters this season.
The animals – of which Norway may have as few as 30 living in the wild – top the league in new figures that reveal a trigger-happy community of hunters. The species is loved and hated. It was almost completely wiped out in the country before its restoration. Wolves trigger strong feelings on both sides of the issue
The Norwegian brown bear comes in a close second most wanted trophy with 10,930 registered licence holders keen to hunt down 18 individuals, followed by 10,820 licence holders interested in 141 wolverines, according to the country’s register for hunters.
Norway is currently home to about 30 wolves, and about 50 wolves migrate between Norway and Sweden. The Norwegian wolves are primarily restricted to a “wolf zone” that extends from Rendalen in the north to Aremark in the south, and includes Oslo, Bærum and Hvaler. Wolves that establish themselves outside this wolf zone are usually killed.
The 30 Norwegian wolves in Norway are allowed to raise three litters a year. In principle, any additional litters can be shot. This regulation does not allow to establish a sustainable population of wolf so in-breeding is a constant problem.
Wolves that enter Sweden, Finland or Russia might be luckier since those countries are considered more concerned with sustainability of such fragile animal populations. While neither the wolf nor bear populations are yet at the level sought by Norwegian authorities, decisions to hand out hunting licences are made to protect livestock, according to the country’s environment agency.
While licensed hunting is part of a policy to keep predator populations under control, it is suspected that such populations – and especially the wolves – are kept down by illegal hunting. Truly sad story!