Innocent Wolves Cleared by DNA in Sweden

The Local / Sweden's News in English / August 21, 2007

Wolves and other beasts of prey take too much blame for the mysterious deaths of tame animals. Half of all deaths blamed on wild animals can in fact be attributed to other causes, say researchers.

So far this year animal owners have reported 145 attacks supposedly carried out by creatures such as wolves, bears and lynxes. But it has often emerged that the animals in fact died of illness or injury and were later attacked by birds or foxes, or that their lives were cut short by dogs.

"It is difficult to pin down the cause of a tame animal's death. Many people have no idea what an injury inflicted by a wild animal looks like.

"If there is known to be a wolf in the area it is common for it to get the blame for any dead animals that are found," Jens Karlsson from Grimsö Wildlife Research Station told Svenska Dagbladet.

This summer researchers have for the first time taken DNA samples of all animals killed or injured in an attack by another animal. The results are to be collated during the autumn, when researchers hope to be able to differentiate between the DNA of beasts of prey and that of other animals.

"Our hope is that DNA analysis will provide supplementary evidence to the assessments made by inspectors, and that it can be used in future cases that are particularly difficult to the solve," said Jens Karlsson.

TT/The Local ( 656 6518)