To Cull A Wolf

Another year, another wolf cull. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have written an article documenting an impending wolf cull in one country or another, and if the past predictability of the human race is anything to go by, this will not be the last time a cull is issued. Who is planning the latest cull of this species? Norway. How many are they planning to cull? Two thirds of their wolf population.

Currently, there are only an estimated 68 wolves remaining in the wilds of Norway and is precisely the reason why Norwegian wolf packs are already classed as highly endangered. Most of the remaining animals reside in the south-east of the country, and the proposed and lately approved cull will see 47 of these magnificent animals shot. Environmental groups have already branded the ruling as ‘shameful’ and have predicted that the cull will be no less than disastrous for the wolves of Norway. So, why has this been allowed to happen? Is there any reason for this cull? The justification is that the cull, which is the largest since 1911, is aimed at protecting sheep flocks, which, it is argued, these predators do a lot of damage to. However, this has already been disputed by conservationists, who argue that the damage done by these wolf packs to sheep flocks is actually very minimal and the huge scale of the cull does not reflect the true impact that wolves have on sheep numbers.

Although the Norwegian government takes steps to prevent illegal wolf hunting, hunting is, in fact, a very popular sport indeed in Norway. Last year, when 16 wolves were licensed to be shot, over 11,000 individuals applied to gain a shooting license. That works out at more than 700 applicants per wolf. The fear amongst conservation groups is that the latest target of 47 wolves is all too great for the population to be able to recover from and is likely to do great damage to family packs.

The chief executive of the WWF in Norway, Nina Jensen, has labelled the cull as nothing more than a ‘mass slaughter’, and that Norway, who claims to be a champion of the environment, should be more than ashamed by their decision to cull. If the target of 47 wolves is achieved, it is likely that 3 out of 6 family packs of wolves will be shot, greatly reducing genetic diversity and doing irreversible damage to the population of the endangered wolves. Under current arrangements, 24 of the wolves are to be shot in the region of the country which is designated as wolf habitat, whilst 13 are to be shot in bordering regions and 10 in other areas of the country. Norway’s environmental groups are appealing to the minister of the environment to put a stop to the cull.

“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”- Frank Zappa

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Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard
I have been a bird enthusiast since I was a child and have just completed my MSc at Newcastle University on 'Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management.'
Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard

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