Archive for the ‘culling’ Tag

Norway’s wolf cull pits sheep farmers against conservationists   12 comments

September 23, 2016  Source

Norway’s recent decision to destroy 70% of its tiny endangered population of wolves shocked conservationists worldwide and saw 35,000 sign a local petition. But in a region dominated by sheep farming support for the cull runs deep.

 

Norway has a population of just 68 wolves and conservationists say most off the injuries to sheep are caused by roaming wolves from Swedish packs. Photograph: Roger Strandli Berghagen

Conservation groups worldwide were astonished to hear of the recent,unprecedented decision to destroy 70% of the Norway’s tiny and endangered population of 68 wolves, the biggest cull for almost a century.

But not everyone in Norway is behind the plan. The wildlife protection group Predator Alliance Norway, for example, has campaign posters that talk of wolves as essential for nature, and a tourist attraction for Norway.

Nothing unusual about that, given it’s a wildlife group, except that the group is based in Trysil, the heartland of the territory where most of the wolf culling announced by Norwegian authorities last week will take place.

Predator Alliance Norway is an anomaly in this area, a land inhabited by the most fervent advocates of culling – many of them farmers and hunters. Here, you pass cars with large stickers pronouncing “Real Men Shoot Wolves” to show support for six local poachers who were imprisoned for illegal hunting last year.

Lars-Erik Lie, a 46-year-old mental health worker who founded the group in 2010, told the Guardian: “I got so upset and saddened by the locals’ thirst for wolf blood, and wanted to show that not all villagers are in favour of wiping out this beautiful animal.

“Many locals think there should be room for both predators and livestock, but they have kept their mouths shut out of fear for repercussions.” Lie has himself been the target of threats.

Culling could undermine the viability of the entire Norwegian wolf population, say conservationists. Photograph: Roger Strandli Berghagen

At the heart of the matter is the conflict between sheep farmers and conservationists. Norway is a large sheep farming nation, unique in letting most of its 2 million sheep roam free all summer without herding, fencing and with little supervision.

As a result, 120,000 sheep are lost each year, and 20,000 of these deaths are attributed to predators, judging by state compensation payouts, which are based on documentation and assessment by the authorities. Beyond that, 900 cadavers found annually are confirmed to have been killed by predators. The wolf accounts for 8% of kills.

Wolves, bears, lynx, wolverines and golden eagles are Norway’s native top predators.

In 1846, the authorities issued bounties to hunt them down, resulting in all species being virtually extinct by the mid-20th century, The wolf was given protected status in 1973, a watershed in wildlife management for the acknowledgement of its part in Norwegian fauna and in need of protection. The first wolf returned in 1980, though the first breeding entirely on Norwegian soil did not take place until 1997.

In the meantime, a new breed of sheep had invaded the land. “The breed of sheep vastly favoured by Norwegian farmers is unsuited to roam around the rugged terrain of the country,” said Silje Ask Lundberg, from Friends of the Earth Norway.

The sheep is favoured for its size and large proportion of meat, but is a bad climber and has poor herding and flight instincts, unlike the old short-tail land race, considered the original Norwegian sheep race, prevalent on the west coast, where ironically there are no wolves.

Just across the mountain from Lie’s house in Trysil, is the territory of the Slettåsen pack, which has been marked out for a complete cull even though the wolves live within a designated wolf zone.

The framework for predator management has been set by parliament, with local predator management boards setting hunting and culling quotas when population targets have been achieved.

“The lack of a scientific and professional approach is obvious,” said Lie. In January his organisation filed a complaint that the board votes in representatives with vested interests, such as farmers, whereas green party members have been excluded.

Lars-Erik Lie of Predator Alliance Norway. Photograph: Arve Herman Tangen

At his office in Oslo, Sverre Lundemo of WWF Norway is also puzzled. “It seems strange that we should punish the wolf for following its natural instincts, particularly within specially designated zones where the wolf supposedly has priority over livestock,” he says.

“The Slettåsen pack is very stable and of genetic importance. Scandinavian wolves are subject to inbreeding and poaching, and this makes the small population more vulnerable to random events. Culling these individuals can undermine the viability of the entire Norwegian wolf population.”

According to Lundemo, the decision for culling appears to be based on politics as much as on science. The WWF have examined the case document that formed the base of the decision. “This a questionable decision on many levels. The case documents don’t substantiate why these three particular territories were singled out for culling,” said Lundemo.

Despite the population within the wolf zone having almost doubled since last year, attacks on livestock have almost halved. “Most of the injuries are inflicted by roaming young wolves from Swedish packs,” said Lundemo.

Sweden has stricter regulations for sheep farmers, refusing to compensate farmers who don’t protect livestock properly. As a member of the EU, Sweden had a planned licenced cull of 10 % of their wolf population of 400 in 2014 reduced following pressure.

Friends of the Earth advocate more suitable breeds of sheep, or cattle, and better fences and herding. WWF is exploring the option to challenge the decision legally before the wolf hunt sets in on 1 January 2017.

Back in Trysil, the Predator Alliance is gaining momentum. The group has submitted a 35,000-signature petition for protecting the wolf to the prime minister, Erna Solberg. “We humans have become greedy, behaving like nature is there for our taking,” said Lie. “When you have a population as small as the one we have in Norway now, you have to draw the line.”

 

 

 

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Enough with the caveman policy of culling   7 comments

October 26, 2015 Source

by Ginny Sanderson

Culling has hit the headlines recently, and various species have topped the undesirables list. it seems to be fashionable across the globe to shoot first, ask questions later. From the Japanese randomly killing dolphins, to Australians going all out on sharks, I’d like to make a radical proposal to stop this madness.

cute-wolf-the-anubians-wolf-pack-18037071-1600-1200In Norway the new fad is to kill the wolves, despite 80% of population wanting to keep the species in their high numbers. The problem is with farming: it is claimed that sheep are killed by these animals. However, around 1500 out of 2 million Norwegian sheep are killed by wolves a year, and these small numbers are compensated for. A much higher proportion of their deaths is predicted to be the result of some dumb sheep thing like falling down a crevasse. Moreover, wolves supposedly present a danger to human life. Remarkably, for a somewhat foreward thinking, humanitarian country, the proposed culling in Norway still seems to think of the wolf as the big bad creep out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale. In reality they affect humans very little: no one’s been killed by a wolf since 1800.

These animals, which have called Scandinavia their home for thousands of years, are facing extermination by ignorance and fear-mongering. Absurdly, farmers have said the animal “contributes nothing.” Well besides balancing the ecosystem what do you expect wild animals to contribute to the human world? It’s like saying ‘hamsters are shit bankers, so to hell with the lot of them’. And quite frankly I think this statement is rash, existentially wolves may ‘contribute’ more than economics can measure. If it wasn’t for wolves, what would people get tattooed to represent their spirituality? Jokes aside, if people do not pay attention to this ridiculous occurrence its existence will only snowball, and these majestic creatures will become extinct.

badger-2-cute1-lst111532Similarly the Hufflepuff mascot is being culled by our meat obsession. Not to go all Morissey on you, but the British badger is effectively being killed so we can kill other animals. It’s not even working. The aim of the policy is to prevent TB spread in livestock. The randomised culling however has led to the remaining badgers spreading to TB areas and catching the disease, so the problem has just been aggravated. My only suggestion in this line of thinking, for a completely successful British cattle-farming, is to kill every animal apart from the ones we want to eat. In fact, kill all the cattle too because 94% of bovine TB spread is due to herd-to-herd transmission. If we’re going to roll with this fists-first attitude, why not go the whole hog (or cow)?

One could argue that it is a survival of the fittest, dog-eat-dog world. If the Dodo was too stupid and fat to survive, that’s not our problem. The issue I take with this reasoning is that it’s regressive and insulting to humanity: have we not evolved beyond the carelessness of survival techniques such as these? Aren’t we intelligent enough to realise when something is destructive – and what’s more, ineffective – and found a logical and peaceful way around it? It’s like we haven’t made any progress since we were hairy cavemen and ladies thrusting spears at woolly mammoths.

To me, culling is an unnatural, nonsensical and lazy policy which does not belong in the modern world.

Written March 2014

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