Wolves and bears in danger due to new hunting laws

Wolves and bears in danger due to new hunting laws


Wolves and bears, already extremely endangered animals in most parts of Europe, have started to be hunted again in Sweden and Bulgaria after hunting bans were lifted, once again threatening both species.

The decisions of both governments have been questioned by the non-profit organisation European Wildlife, dedicated to landscape protection and wildlife conservation.

“In a large part of Europe, both wolves and bears are still an exterminated or severely endangered species, states Dalibor Dostal, director of the European Wildlife conservation organisation

“It is thus very unfortunate that Sweden and Bulgaria have permitted the shooting of these large beasts of prey at a moment when their populations in the territory of these two states had begun to recover and grow.”

The organisation has sent a letter to the prime ministers of both countries, asking them to reassess the approach to the hunting of large carnivores.

After a 45-year ban, wolf hunting was re-established in Sweden in 2010.

Since wolves in Scandinavia were almost completely wiped out, it had been prohibited to hunt wolves since the hunting season of 1965-66.

Sweden had co-operated with Norway in an attempt to bring these animals back into the wild along their borders.

In 2001, Norway approved the culling of several wolves due to their alleged population growth; Sweden raised a protest to this action.

But due to a law passed by the Swedish Parliament, only 210 wolves at the most may live in the wild, thus hunting resumed in 2010.

In the first season hunters were only permitted to shoot 27 wolves, however according to the Swedish media and conservationists, hunters exceeded the limit in some areas.

An annual brown bear hunting quota had been implemented for the first time in Bulgaria.

The killing of bears was strictly prohibited with the exception of accidents or special permits.

But now hunters can shoot brown bears for the first time in 20 years with the Bulgarian government giving permission for the shooting of 17 bears.

An estimated 550 bears currently live in Bulgaria and five bears were killed in the first hunting season, with the second began mid September this year.

“Hunting is not a solution. Instead, all European states should speed up steps leading to the cross-border interconnection of national parks and other large protected territories by means of functioning wildlife-corridors, so that endangered animal species including large beasts of prey can migrate from areas where their numbers are higher to areas offering them plenty of free space to live,” Mr Dostal added.