The European Union's executive arm has launched legal action against Sweden today for allowing hunters to shoot 20 wolves this year. Sweden opened a hunting season on Jan. 15 following a 2009 decision by parliament to limit the wolf population to 210 animals in 20 packs. Last year's hunt was the first in Sweden since 1964. The EU has raised concerns because it says wolves are threatened with extinction in Scandinavia.
From this AFP story via Google News:
_The European Union's executive arm raised concerns about Sweden's wolf policy, including the licensed hunting of a protected species and the "arbitrary ceiling" of 210 wolves that was set for the animal's population.
Sweden opened a hunting season on January 15 allowing hunters to kill 20 wolves. More than 6,700 hunters participated in the hunt, the commission said. As of Wednesday -- 11 days after the hunt started -- 18 of the 20 wolves had been killed, the Swedish environmental protection agency said.
_The hunt follows a 2009 decision by parliament to limit the wolf population to 210 animals, spread out in 20 packs, with 20 new pups per year, for a period of five years by issuing hunting permits in regions where wolves have recently reproduced.
_The Scandinavian country resumed wolf hunting last year when it set a quota of 27 wolves. It was the first wolf hunt since 1964.
After almost disappearing, wolves have reproduced in the last three decades with sheep and reindeer increasingly under attack.
The European Commission decided to open a formal infringement procedure, which can lead to a case before the European Court of Justice, which can impose hefty fines on EU states that violate the bloc's rules.
Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren on Thursday reacted to the Commission's announcement and said Sweden alone could decide whether or not to allow the country's wolf hunt.
"I am confident that we will be able to dispel the doubts that the Commission has on our wolf policy," he told reporters.
"It is our conviction that decisions on the predator policy should be foremost taken in Sweden, near the people concerned, not in Brussels," he and Agriculture Minister Eskil Andersson said in a statement.
_Thoughts? Any similiarities to the wolf debate in parts of the U.S.?