Norway, which has more than 200,000 registered hunters, has one of Europe’s smallest wolf populations. Around a quarter of the country’s wolves were killed in culls during the previous years. The animals, most of which are in a designated habitat in the southeast of the country , were nearly wiped out in the last century, and restored in the 1970’s after they gained protected status. The government strictly controls their breeding to protect the livestock.
Many conservation groups have expressed outrage over the decision to cull more than two-thirds of the remaining wolves. The number of wolves to be culled is the highest in a year since 1911. Nina Jensen, the head of the Norwegian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said:
This is mass slaughter. We have not seen anything like this in a hundred years, back when the policy was that all large carnivores were to be eradicated. Shooting 70 percent of the wolf population is not worthy of a nation claiming to be championing environmental causes. People all over the country, and outside its borders, are now reacting.
Farmers have welcomed the hunting of wolves as they are considered a threat to their sheep. Erling Aas-Eng, a regional official for a farming association said:
We find the reason (for the killing) justified and intelligent, especially the potential damage that these wolf packs represent to farming.
Norway’s annual wolf hunting begins on October 1 and ends on March 31. Last year, a whopping 11,571 people signed up for licenses to kill 16 wolves.