Sweden allows hunters to shoot dozens of wolves

In Sweden, the hunt opened this week for 75 of the country's approximately 460 wolves. Nature organizations speak of the largest wolf slaughter in modern history. Nature organizations point out that the wolf population in Sweden is relatively low compared to Italy, for example, where there are more than 3,000. 

Conservationists warn that the hunt could further endanger the wolf species and encourage other European countries to follow suit. The hunters' associations say "it is absolutely necessary to slow down the growth of wolves," reported the British newspaper The Guardian. 

Those organizations say the wolf pack is the largest the Swedes have had to date. In recent years, the number of wolves has also increased in other European countries. That is attributed to the protected status that the wolf has had for many years.

But wildlife groups say the unregulated hunting of the wolf violates the Council of Europe's Bern Convention. They have unsuccessfully tried to appeal against the violation of the Habitats Directive.

The Swedish Environmental Agency had warned in the past that the wolf population should not fall below 300 to avoid inbreeding. But the Swedish parliament is in favor of lowering the number to 170, the lowest level still allowed within the requirements of the European Union's Habitats and Species Directive. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says that figure was "not based on scientific facts". 

The Scandinavian wolf is already on the endangered species list. Sweden shares a wolf population with Norway along its 2,000-kilometer border. Norway is the only country in the world that has set a cap on the number of wolves, allowing the arrival of only four to six cubs per year. The Scandinavian country allows hunters to drastically reduce the wolf population every year.