The wolf is on the Norwegian red list of endangered species. At the start of each hunting season there are roughly 50 wolves in Norway. By the end there are barely 20. So far, migration from Sweden has prevented the complete collapse of the species. But the wolf “contributes nothing”, the farmers say, and they want it gone for good.
Compare this to the minke whale. Norway takes roughly 600 animals a year from a whale population of at least 125,000. But there’s no money in killing whales any more and the industry is dying out. We may not like whaling, but the whales are thriving. It’s a different story with the wolf.
The Norwegian government is required by international law to protect the wolf. It acknowledges that the species is critically endangered, yet promotes a strategy that hobbles its recovery, keeping numbers so artificially low that it is heavily inbred and struggles to reproduce. Three breeding pairs are “permitted”. That is all. Now even that level of protection is under threat.
The new rightwing coalition is not going to stand in the farmers’ way: the populist Progress Party recently said it has no objection to the eradication of the wolf. Increasing numbers are signing up to wolf-hunting courses.
The wolf has few friends. Arctic reindeer herders shoot them on sight. In the south, poachers kill with impunity. Prosecutions are rare. Once the wolf has gone, the farmers will turn their attention to the bear, the wolverine, and the lynx.
I don’t think it needs to be one or the other, but Norway’s wolves are in a desperate situation.
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