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Shall we preserve wolves and other big predators?

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    Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 09:51

In some places in the world the topic of big predators is hotly debated. Some people think they shall be exterminated, or at least that their numbers shall be heavily reduced. Others think that they are already severely threatened and that they must be protected.

 

This topic is debated also here in Sweden, especially regarding the wolf. In the 60s it went more or less extinct in Sweden, but in the 80s wolfs immigrated from neighbouring countries and today the Swedish wolf population is around 200 animals strong.

 

But the return of the wolf, and also increasing populations of lynx and bear, gives rice to many protests especially among farmers and hunters, partly because these animals take some sheep, sometimes kill domestic dogs and because they compete with humans for wild game.

 

This has lead to that many wolves and other predators have been illegally hunted and killed.

 

What is your opinion about these animals, shall we preserve them or shoot them?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 10:57
I am of the opinion that a species in its native environment, should not be the subject of complete extermination. I fully understand that often, animals will exceed the natural carrying capacity and culling might need to be put in place, but this doesn't tend to happen with big predators so I won't really go into it.

Back to the big predators, and why I don't think they should be killed off simply due to competition with man in areas. As far as I see it, top predators such as wolves in this case, are integral to the optimal functioning of an ecosystem - being the peak consumers in the food web, the control of lower order consumers is very reliant on the population and presence of these higher order consumers. Once a component such as this is removed from the ecological equation, the entire food web and its respective trophic pathways can go haywire, with some species gaining dominance at the expense of others. And monocultures are very rarely beneficial for the long-term survival of an ecosystem.

Having said that, large predators like wolves do present problems to humans, as you mentioned. Taking livestock and posing a direct threat to people being the main concerns. To an extent, it could be argued that there is no way of avoiding attacks on people unless extermination was carried out. This is fair enough, but I do know that through education and awareness, with a bit of respect for the predators and their behaviour, attacks like these can be prevented (or at the very least, drastically minimised). And with the taking of livestock -- well again, preventative measures can easily be put in place through education and maybe a bit of funding for farmers. Improved fencing and deterrents are two such methods which are effective at keeping farm animals and wild predators separate. Deterrants might be chemical (for example, wolves are strongly put off by certain scents), physical (barriers/fences) or even biological (large domestic dogs can be very loyal and brave protectors of livestock, such as the Marema sheepdog).
In fact, just to digress about the Marema briefly, here in Sydney and in other parts of Australia, we have had grand success with using these brilliant dogs as biological deterrants/protectors of both livestock and native species. For instance, little blue (fairy) penguin colonies along the east coast of Australia face a grave risk from foxes raiding eggs and chicks, but now Maremas have been trained to guard the penguin colonies. Of course, the fox is not native so it wouldn't mess things up if it was removed (quite on the contrary in fact), but you get the point.

So, in my opinion, in the average case, large predators -even if some threat is posed- should not be exterminated from their natural environment. This could set of a chain reactions of far more costly events.

Sincerely,

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 11:08
This topic came up, in a rather peripheral fashion, in our last presidential election. The criticism was directed at Sarah Palin, who had endorsed culling predator populations, and this criticism might even have been just in a certain sense. Still, the tone of the criticism demonstrated that few of the critics were Alaskans, or had ever considered things from the perspective of resident Alaskans.
 
It's really a touchy subject, where there are legitimate points to be made from almost every conceivable angle. I look forward to following this thread.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 11:19
Originally posted by Knights Knights wrote:


So, in my opinion, in the average case, large predators -even if some threat is posed- should not be exterminated from their natural environment. This could set of a chain reactions of far more costly events.

Sincerely,

- Knights -
 
I agree, they are just to important for the ecosystem to be exterminated.
 
And in the case of risks to people, yes some pose a risk, but with the right measures the risks can be minimized.
 
Here in Sweden some people are very afraid of the wolf, but still noone since 1821 has actually been killed by a wild wolf in Sweden. And that wolf were raised by men and had a behaviour that was not ordinary for a wild wolf.
 
We have recently had a couple of accidents with bears, but that has been bears who were disturbed and provoked by hunters.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 11:19
Originally posted by Knights Knights wrote:

I
In fact, just to digress about the Marema briefly, here in Sydney and in other parts of Australia, we have had grand success with using these brilliant dogs as biological deterrants/protectors of both livestock and native species. For instance, little blue (fairy) penguin colonies along the east coast of Australia face a grave risk from foxes raiding eggs and chicks, but now Maremas have been trained to guard the penguin colonies. Of course, the fox is not native so it wouldn't mess things up if it was removed (quite on the contrary in fact), but you get the point.

Why would it make any difference whether the animal was native or not? I'm also not sure I see why big predators should be preserved any more than small ones.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 11:24
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Why would it make any difference whether the animal was native or not? I'm also not sure I see why big predators should be preserved any more than small ones.
 
Introduced, non native species are often a threat to local eco systems and can wreac havoc among local species not adapted to their precense.
 
Of course also small predators shall be protected. But many times it is the big predators that risk most persecution.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote xristar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 11:55
The problem in Sweden (where only 200 wolves live) and in Alaska is quite different.
Sweden (and very similarly Greece) can designate a specific large area as protected, compensating anyone who gets affected by this. Within this area any hunting or killing will be strictly prohibited, animal populations will be regularly monitored etc. This area will cover the natural habitat of the animals, and have enough surface to allow them to live as supposed. Outside this area, where human activities are allowed, killing animals cannot be prohibited.
Alaska is a much bigger land, with huge areas of wilderness, with tiny human populations, generally scattered. It is very difficult to establish a natural park.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 12:00
Originally posted by xristar xristar wrote:


Alaska is a much bigger land, with huge areas of wilderness, with tiny human populations, generally scattered. It is very difficult to establish a natural park.
 
Well, if there is a lot of wilderness, then by protecting species or at least have special regulations for hunting and exploitation, there is maybe not the same need for parks or protected areas.


Edited by Carcharodon - 11 Nov 2009 at 12:01
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 19:43
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Why would it make any difference whether the animal was native or not? I'm also not sure I see why big predators should be preserved any more than small ones.
 
Introduced, non native species are often a threat to local eco systems and can wreac havoc among local species not adapted to their precense.
 
Of course also small predators shall be protected. But many times it is the big predators that risk most persecution.

The wolves haven't been here since beginning of time, at one point they also introduced themselves, surely wreaking havoc among the native animals. The "local eco system" is a just a balance that has been established given the present flora and fauna. When a new species is introduced or removed, either by man or not, a new balance will be established and you have a new "local eco system". What you miss is that humans are also part of that: those who want to preserve the wolves might do so in their own backyard and don't force others to step down and let them roam in their lands. 

Quote

The problem in Sweden (where only 200 wolves live) and in Alaska is quite different.
Sweden (and very similarly Greece) can designate a specific large area as protected, compensating anyone who gets affected by this. Within this area any hunting or killing will be strictly prohibited, animal populations will be regularly monitored etc. This area will cover the natural habitat of the animals, and have enough surface to allow them to live as supposed. Outside this area, where human activities are allowed, killing animals cannot be prohibited.
Alaska is a much bigger land, with huge areas of wilderness, with tiny human populations, generally scattered. It is very difficult to establish a natural park.


This doesn't make sense. More area means more space to create parks.



Edited by Styrbiorn - 11 Nov 2009 at 19:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote xristar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2009 at 23:39
Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:


This doesn't make sense. More area means more space to create parks.


Parks are supposed to be controlled. You can't make the whole Alask a park. You have got to leave a huge area out of the park, and thus allow hundreds (if not thousands) of animals to be eligible to get killed. And that's the problem.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whalebreath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2009 at 05:43
Such an odd thread, but like all oddities a tiny bit educational.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2009 at 08:45
Originally posted by xristar xristar wrote:

Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:


This doesn't make sense. More area means more space to create parks.


Parks are supposed to be controlled. You can't make the whole Alask a park. You have got to leave a huge area out of the park, and thus allow hundreds (if not thousands) of animals to be eligible to get killed. And that's the problem.



You don't have to make all the Alaska into a park. There is however much more space to choose from, making it much easier to create parks. Sweden, although having some of the last real wilderness in Europe, is mostly developed even though the villages are far in between in the remote areas. The problem arrives when Stockholm wants to look at furry animals on TV and therefore need to preserve the wolves and bear, which means the people in the the wolf areas will have their livestock attacked, hunting dogs killed and garbage and supplies rummaged by semi-tame bears.


Edited by Styrbiorn - 12 Nov 2009 at 08:48
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2009 at 10:57
Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:

The wolves haven't been here since beginning of time, at one point they also introduced themselves, surely wreaking havoc among the native animals. The "local eco system" is a just a balance that has been established given the present flora and fauna. When a new species is introduced or removed, either by man or not, a new balance will be established and you have a new "local eco system". What you miss is that humans are also part of that: those who want to preserve the wolves might do so in their own backyard and don't force others to step down and let them roam in their lands. 

The wolves and other species had a longer time to coevolve than newly by humans introduced species. Experience shows that many introduced species have a negative impact on an ecosystem. Of course there will be a new balance at some point in time but many times that balance is maybe not what we wanted, and some times the new system can be much less diverse than the earlier. There are many examples of this (you can find examples ranging from foxes in Australia to Nile Perch in Victoria lake).

Wolves is a natural part of our fauna since the last ice age, so of course we have the possibility to preserve some of them.
And many studies has shown that populations of prey mostly are more healthy in an environment where their natural predators are present.


Edited by Carcharodon - 12 Nov 2009 at 11:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2009 at 15:12
How do you define a 'negative' impact on an ecosystem? How can you tell whether an ecosystem is better or worse than it was before?
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2009 at 15:22
Hopefully wolves will be reintroduced to the Highlands to control deer populations which need culling now and again anyway.

http://www.wolftrust.org.uk/faqhighlands.html#When%20will%20wolves%20be%20reintroduced%20in%20the%20Highlands

Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Why would it make any difference whether the animal was native or not? I'm also not sure I see why big predators should be preserved any more than small ones.
 
Introduced, non native species are often a threat to local eco systems and can wreac havoc among local species not adapted to their precense.
 
Of course also small predators shall be protected. But many times it is the big predators that risk most persecution.


Such rabid animalism should not be tolerated.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2009 at 16:10
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

How do you define a 'negative' impact on an ecosystem? How can you tell whether an ecosystem is better or worse than it was before?
 
 
 
Negative and positive are of course just human expressions. Maybe we can translate it to either more negative for us (when concerning natural resources) or negative in the meaning of less biodiversity (and many times those can coincide).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2009 at 16:17
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:


Such rabid animalism should not be tolerated.
 
It seems that humans are often inclined to discriminate, even animals are victims of that. And often people pays more attention to big predators because they are more noticeable.
 
When concerning protection people often pay attention to big mammals and beautiful birds, but forget about insects, amphibians, crustaceans and other more unconspicuous animals.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Nov 2009 at 12:15
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

How do you define a 'negative' impact on an ecosystem? How can you tell whether an ecosystem is better or worse than it was before?
 
 
 
Negative and positive are of course just human expressions. Maybe we can translate it to either more negative for us (when concerning natural resources) or negative in the meaning of less biodiversity (and many times those can coincide).
 
I was asking how you define it, not asking for the possibilities.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Nov 2009 at 14:07
Well I would define it as when a ecosystem is severely disrupted. Loss in biodiversity is often a result of such disruptions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2010 at 15:02
Unfortunately Sweden has recently made an ass of itself by allowing the killing of 27 wolves (actually 28 wolves were killed). Our peddler government (which hopefully will be replaced in September) has decided that there shall only be 210 wolves in the whole country of Sweden. So when our parliament allowed for some wolves to be killed, thousands of hunters ran out in the woods to kill these animals, something that has raised some attention abroad, especially since Sweden has a very low density of wolves compared with other countries where these animals live.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2010 at 15:30
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

Unfortunately Sweden has recently made an ass of itself by allowing the killing of 27 wolves (actually 28 wolves were killed). Our peddler government (which hopefully will be replaced in September) has decided that there shall only be 210 wolves in the whole country of Sweden. So when our parliament allowed for some wolves to be killed, thousands of hunters ran out in the woods to kill these animals, something that has raised some attention abroad, especially since Sweden has a very low density of wolves compared with other countries where these animals live.


The decision was taken by Naturvardsverket and had widespread support in the concerned areas.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2010 at 19:11
Well, the decision about 210 wolves were taken by the parliament where the governmental parties are in a majority.

Now it seems that the government are talking about allowing 20 wolves from Finland or Russia immigrate to Sweden (or be implanted here if there will be no natural immigration) to counteract inbreeding and get a more healthy population (but at the same time the population is not allowed to increase).

And that has of course already created discussions among the rurals.
And the Swedish organisation for hunters will probably intensify their lobbying to finally get rid of all wolves. Maybe they will increase their activity giving courses and exams to members in the parliament, and intensify the shooting on the shooting range in the basement of the parliamentary building.


Edited by Carcharodon - 28 Jan 2010 at 19:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kalhor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2010 at 22:06
 a limited population of wolves could be good for regulating deer population by hunting weak and sick deers and an unlimited huge wolf population could be disaster too. .it is easier for the predators to catch new born deers rather than adults. it  will lead to stopping regeneration of deer population and would finish by disaster for both wolves and deers. 
the decision was made to regulate the wolf population in order to avoid this situation and nothing is wrong with that. both deers and wolves have right to exist.
regards



Edited by kalhor - 28 Jan 2010 at 22:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2010 at 22:57
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

Well, the decision about 210 wolves were taken by the parliament where the governmental parties are in a majority.

Now it seems that the government are talking about allowing 20 wolves from Finland or Russia immigrate to Sweden (or be implanted here if there will be no natural immigration) to counteract inbreeding and get a more healthy population (but at the same time the population is not allowed to increase).

And that has of course already created discussions among the rurals.
And the Swedish organisation for hunters will probably intensify their lobbying to finally get rid of all wolves. Maybe they will increase their activity giving courses and exams to members in the parliament, and intensify the shooting on the shooting range in the basement of the parliamentary building.
 
Is it the hunters or other rural groups that are advocating the eradication of the wolves? I'm a bit confused, but it might be because I'm coming from an American context. Here our hunters play an active and essential role in maintaining ecosystems -- although those who are also farmers and livestock keepers occasionally provide a counterbalance. The lobbies are some of the most effective environmental groups -- at least when it comes to maintaining healthy populations and habitats -- in the country. Is it different in Sweden? and if so, to what would you attribute the disconnect? Do you think space has anything to do with it?
 
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Doesn't seem to phase the social life much...

 
Now, the "culling" of the wolf packs should bring some interesting times at the Swedish EPA what with those 10,000 hunters fighting over just a handful of "permits". Besides, the "season" is now over, what with the permitted quota met.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2010 at 09:31
Originally posted by kalhor kalhor wrote:

 a limited population of wolves could be good for regulating deer population by hunting weak and sick deers and an unlimited huge wolf population could be disaster too. .it is easier for the predators to catch new born deers rather than adults. it  will lead to stopping regeneration of deer population and would finish by disaster for both wolves and deers. 
the decision was made to regulate the wolf population in order to avoid this situation and nothing is wrong with that. both deers and wolves have right to exist.
regards


Well, the deer, moose and other animals that wolves prey upon can mostly handle predation. In Sweden a couple of hundred years ago there were thousands of wolves and still we had deer and moose and similar animals in our fauna. The real imbalance started in late 18th century when Gustav III made it possible for commoners to hunt these animals, a privilege which had up to then been reserved for kings and nobility. This led to a quick drop in populations so that roedeer and moose became more or less exctinct and new laws must be implemented to protect them. This also led to an increse in attacks against livestock from wolves, lynx and other predators since their natural prey had more or less disappeared.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2010 at 09:45
Originally posted by Akolouthos Akolouthos wrote:

 
Is it the hunters or other rural groups that are advocating the eradication of the wolves? I'm a bit confused, but it might be because I'm coming from an American context. Here our hunters play an active and essential role in maintaining ecosystems -- although those who are also farmers and livestock keepers occasionally provide a counterbalance. The lobbies are some of the most effective environmental groups -- at least when it comes to maintaining healthy populations and habitats -- in the country. Is it different in Sweden? and if so, to what would you attribute the disconnect? Do you think space has anything to do with it?
 
-Akolouthos

No one is asking for eradiction; it's standard Carch/Left wing hyperbole nonsense. It works pretty similar here, Naturvardsverket, which is the equivalent of your EPA, is monitoring the different species, setting quotas for hunts etc. They were the ones coming up with the hunt recommendation: the parliament merely made the formal decision. 100,000 moose and 200,000 deers (25% of the total population) end up on dinner tables each year without much whining. Now then, 27 out of 200+ wolves are killed and there is a major uproar (in the big cities, of course). It's quite pathetic.



Edited by Styrbiorn - 29 Jan 2010 at 09:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2010 at 09:49
Originally posted by Akolouthos Akolouthos wrote:

 
Is it the hunters or other rural groups that are advocating the eradication of the wolves? I'm a bit confused, but it might be because I'm coming from an American context. Here our hunters play an active and essential role in maintaining ecosystems -- although those who are also farmers and livestock keepers occasionally provide a counterbalance. The lobbies are some of the most effective environmental groups -- at least when it comes to maintaining healthy populations and habitats -- in the country. Is it different in Sweden? and if so, to what would you attribute the disconnect? Do you think space has anything to do with it?
 
-Akolouthos


Interesting question. Here in Sweden the environmental groups want to have viable populations of predators to uphold a natural balance. But many farmers, hunters (many farmers are hunters too) and other rurals want to decrease the populations of predators both because they feel that these animals kill their livestock and also because they are said to compete with humans for wild game. The hunters seem to prefer to eat the meat of deer, moose and other animals themselves rather than share it with predators.
Also the dissaproval, and many times sheer hate, against predators have historical causes since in old times many people were very poor and to loose some livestock could be a catastophe.
Also some people have a nearly superstitious fear for the wolves, believing it is a very dangerous animal threatening the lives of their children. They claim that they do not dare to let their children roam freely in the woods, or even go outside their houses as long as these animals are around.

The question about predators has also become a sort of symbol where rural population feel themselves not being taken seriously by the central authorities in Stockholm. The rurals also say that those people who want wolves and other predators are those people who live in the cities and who never themselves come in contact with any wild animals.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2010 at 09:52
Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:


No one is asking for eradiction; it's standard Carch/Left wing nonsense. It works pretty similar here, Naturvardsverket, which is the equivalent of your EPA, is monitoring the different species, setting quotas for hunts etc. They were the ones coming up with the hunt recommendation: the parliament merely made the formal decision. 100,000 moose and 200,000 deers (25% of the total population) end up on dinner tables each year without much whining. Now then, 27 out of 200+ wolves are killed and there is a major uproar (in the big cities, of course). It's quite pathetic.


28 out of only about 200 wolves are rather much. Some groups seems to think that Sweden is full of wolves, but 200 animals on an area of about 450 000 square kilometers is not much. It is actually a very low density.

And if you listen to representants for the hunters organisations several of them seem to think that 200 wolves are way to much.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kalhor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2010 at 11:26
the wolf population is not spread over a 450 000 square Km. only in few places well they can surely leave their habitat, but it is seldom so. in värmland where the wolf population is more concentrated . it has been plenty of damge to domestigue animals. we shoulden't forget that wolves are not the only predators in sweden thear are nearly 1500+ bears and many thousends foxes(a fox family usually need to  eat 7-10 roe deer's kid every year) and many hundred lynx and wolverine and badgers and all of them need fresh meat to eat Wink and many thousends hunters  like me loving venisonSmile

Edited by kalhor - 29 Jan 2010 at 11:51
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