Only One Wolf Pair Left in Norway

Aftenposten / April 5, 2005


This female wolf was said to have been shot by mistake
Five wolves were shot last winter, including a key female that one hunter felled "by mistake," he said. The wolf hunt was highly controversial, both within Norway and especially outside the country, and now researchers indicate it was indeed misguided.

That's because it vastly reduced the stated goals for Norway's fledgling wolf population as agreed by members of Parliament less than a year ago. They wanted three breeding pairs within the area of eastern Norway, along the Swedish border, that's been set aside as a wolf management area.

The latest report from the Scandinavian wolf project Scandulv claims only the so-called Julussa pack now has a male and a female fit to breed this spring. Scandulv's research suggests there are no free-roaming wolf pairs capable of breeding either.

The Gråfjell pack still exists, but its lead female was shot in error in February, and the pack has no other females believed to be able to produce pups.

"We expect the Julussa pack to breed this year, but we can never be certain," researcher Petter Wabakken told newspaper Aftenposten. "We may have a year with no breeding."

That's a blow to the general secretary of the World Wildlife Fund, Rasmus Hansson. "We're looking at the lowest wolf population in many years," Hansson said. "The authorities were warned. The result (of the winter hunt) is exactly what we feared. We now have only one functioning pack left."

He also criticized Norway's and Sweden's inability to cooperate on management of the wolf population. Swedish policies are much more protective of the wolves, while Norway's powerful farm and ranch lobby sees the wolves as a threat to their open grazing.