Norwegian court to rule on six men accused of illegal wolf hunt
April 19th - Landmark case pits survival of one of Europe’s smallest wolf populations against Norwegians’ cherished hunting rights.
Six men charged over hunting some of Norway’s last wolves will learn
their fate this week when a court rules on a landmark case that has
gripped the country.
Illegal hunting of wolves is thought to be extensive in Norway, driving down population numbers to perilously low levels.
Now, for the first time, the authorities have prosecuted an alleged
hunting team, charging the six men with environmental offences and
organised crime, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 11 years.
“It’s such a serious offence that we were given almost unlimited
investigative powers by the state attorney,” said Tarjei Istad, a
prosecutor in the case.
The indictment includes attempted illegal hunting, firearms offences and organised crime. The
prosecutor has asked for a five-year ban from hunting, which is
something most Norwegians see as a birthright. The defendants are
pleading not guilty.
All European countries except the UK, Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, are believed to have
a population of wolves, ranging from the largest, in Spain with an
estimated 2,000 animals, to Norway, which has one of the smallest
populations, with perhaps as few as 30. The Gray wolf is listed by Cites
as endangered regionally, though not globally.
“This is a question of attitude in certain hunting teams and
communities,” said Istad, referring to audio surveillance of the
suspects that revealed the suspects allegedly boasting about their
hunts. He believes the case is important to get the message across that
Norway will not take illegal hunting lightly.
Petter Wabakken, an internationally acclaimed expert on wolves, said:
“Our research shows that half of all wolves felled in Norway were
killed by poachers,” he said. “This is disturbing, especially
considering that we have the smallest wolf population in Europe.
Government policy has been to allow three breeding female wolves within
an allocated area. This is not enough to sustain a healthy population.”
Norwegians are deeply divided over the management of wolves. Urban
communities are generally positive about having large predators in their
vicinity, while people in the countryside see them as more of a threat.
Wolves tend to be targeted because of conflicts with human interests,
such as competition for game, human safety and depredation of
“We can only conclude that poachers take the law into their own
hands. It’s not licensed but illegal hunting that regulates the
Norwegian wolf tribe,” Wabakken said.
A new survey finds that 60% of incoming college football players support unions for college athletes. The horror! Were such unions allowed, our glorious cities would crumble to nothing more than shoddy tents stitched together from tattered remnants of Old Glory; our government officials would be loin-cloth-clad elders gathered in the rubble of an old McDonald’s passing a Talking Stick; our naked children would roam the urban wilderness like howling wolves, their minds as blank as their lost Internet connection. We would be without hope, dreams, or a future.
A lot of people confuse coyotes for wolves. Even though they look similar, they are completely different species. Coyotes are smaller, but have bigger ears and tails in proportion to their bodies. Their ears are also more pointed than wolves, and their muzzles are a bit more narrow. Coyotes also tend to be much more adaptable to urban environments than wolves!