January 18, 2011

Europe Taking Against Sweden’s Wolf Hunts

The European Commission said on Monday that it was taking formal action against Sweden for hunting wolves in breach of European Union (EU) legislation.

"I regret that Sweden has begun the licensed hunting of wolves," the Commissioner for the environment Janez Potocnik said in a statement.

"The actions of the Swedish authorities leave me with little choice other than to propose to the Commission that it begin formal proceedings against Sweden for breach of EU environmental law."

"I hope that the Swedish government's promised effort to address the unfavorable conservation status of the wolf population in Sweden through translocation of wolves from other parts of Europe will be pursued without delay."

The spokesman said that the Commission will consider the matter of January 27.

Last month, Sweden announced hunters would be allowed to hunt 20 wolves in 2011 despite harsh criticism of last year's hunt.

The Swedish government told AFP that it was convinced the hunt was "in line with EU rules."

"But we will hear what the Commission has to say," it added.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency said that between January 15 and February 15, licensed hunters would be allowed to shoot 20 wolves, down from the quota of 27 animals last year.

Thousands of hunters have already killed 16 of the 20 wolves.

The hunt follows a 2009 decision by parliament to limit the wolf population to 210 animals.

The 2010 hunt was the first since 1964.

Wolves have reproduced in the last three decades with sheep and reindeer increasingly under attack after almost disappearing.

The head of Sweden's Association for the Protection of Nature welcomed the possibility of EU action.

"The noose is tightening around Sweden," said Mikael Karlsson, who heads the group.

Finland has also run into trouble from the European Commission in the past for allowing wolf hunting.  However, it won a partial court victory over the EU executive in 2007.


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