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THE ENTIRE wolf population of Norway is in danger of being culled to the point of extinction as action groups demand a political rethink.
By Lizzie Stromme
Norway is planning a devastating cull which would wipe out two-thirds of the Scandinavian country’s remaining wolves.
Official figures suggest that of the remaining 65-68 wolves as many as 47 could face being shot.
Maren Esmark, the General Secretary of Friends of the Earth Norway, argued the demands for 70 per cent of the country’s natural predators to be culled was unsustainable and would lead to the magnificent animals dying out in the wild.
Initially, Norway’s department for wildlife sanctioned the massive hunt, which would also see the end of four family nests, in September 2016.
However the decision sparked outcry as animal activists blasted the ruling as it was branded a massacre which would set Norway back 150 years.
Supporters of the cull say it is necessary to prevent harm to the country’s sheep flocks.
The sanction was overturned by Climate and Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen as he declared no more than 15 wolves could be shot this winter.
Mr Helgesen’s announcement was meet with fury from farmers and hunters who lashed out and said wolves were a threat to their local communities and have threatened to take the decision to court.
Ms Esmark, who works for Friends of the Earth Norway, the country’s largest environmental organisation, hailed the Cabinet member’s decision.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “We are very very happy that the Norwegian Government decided to stop the cull.
Norway set to KILL seventy per cent of wolf population
We hope that the Norwegian Parliament will come to its senses
Maren Esmark of Friends of the Earth Norway
“Of course, they didn’t really have a choice because the law says you can’t take almost an entire population of an endangered species. Especially not when the wolf packs haven’t done any harm to sheep or people.”
Continuing, Ms Esmark said the Bern Convention, an international agreement from 1982 which set out guidelines to ensure the survival of natural habitats and endangered species, had been a great help to halt the hunt.
“If you take out two-thirds of a population of a species that is already critically endangered you are almost bringing it to extinction and that is not legal,” she said.
“Not according to the Bern convention, not according to Norwegian law and that is also why the minister stopped this.
“We hope that the Norwegian Parliament will come to its senses and see that Norway cannot wipe out a species and that we need to get a more reasonable management of wolves so we make sure it will survive in the wild.”
Maren Esmark hailed the Climate and Environment Minister for halting the cull
Ms Esmark also pointed out there are other wild animals which pose a greater risk to humans than the wolves they are trying to eradicate.
Ms Esmark said: “Wolves have been almost extinct in Norwegian nature for almost a 100 years so for people living in the areas where the wolf is back, they are scared.
“The Norwegian people and farmers need to get used to having wolves in the woods again.
“There are a lot of other things in nature that are far more dangerous, for example, moose kill a lot of people very year because of car accidents so no, the wolf isn’t really a threat to people.”
The activist added: “We will fight here in Norway to make sure that threatened species like the wolf have a place in Norwegian nature and ecosystem.”
It comes as 24 Swedish wolves are set for culling after animal welfare activists lost a court battle to stop the hunt.
Torbjorn Nilsson, the President of the Swedish Association predators, hit out against the ruling as he said the Swedish wolf population was already so low it could compromise its future in the wild.
He said: “I think it’s an unfortunate and surprising decision.
“It is unfortunate because the wolf population is still quite small, very inbred and too isolated. Therefore, one should not hunt in this way.”