Despite heat from the European Union and environmentalists, Sweden went ahead with its second wolf hunt in 47 years. This year’s hunt began on Jan. 15 and ended yesterday. Hunters were permitted to shoot 20 wolves in six regions, but only tagged 19 by the hunt’s end. Swedish officials say culling the animals allows them to strengthen the gene pool of the country’s largely inbred wolf population. They now insist wolves from Finland and Russia will be imported to replace those killed in the hunt. Russia sure seems like a good place to get some wolves these days.

From this AFP story via Google News:
_…But by an hour after sundown Tuesday when the hunting season ended, only 19 animals had been culled.

“It’s too bad. We would have have gladly taken it,” the head of the hunters’ association in the central Swedish region of Vaestmanland told the TT news agency late Tuesday. Sweden argues the hunt, which was reopened last year after a 46-year hiatus, allows it to strengthen the gene pool of its largely inbred wolf population, insisting it will import wolves from Finland and Russia to replace the killed animals.
_The hunt also enjoys support in rural Sweden, where the small wolf stock has grown over the past three decades and sheep and reindeer have increasingly come under attack. The Swedish parliament decided in 2009 to keep wolf numbers at 210 animals, spread out in 20 packs, with 20 new pups per year.

In January, the European Commission launched legal action against Sweden for allowing the hunt of a protected species.

It decided to open a formal infringement procedure, which could lead to a case before the European Court of Justice, which can impose hefty fines on EU states that violate the bloc’s rules.

According to the Commission, some 6,700 hunters took part in this year’s hunt.

The hunt is also controversial in Sweden. Earlier this month, protestors marched through central Stockholm carrying 20 coffins to symbolise the number of wolves in this year’s hunting quota, and nearly 8,000 people sent letters to Brussels to protest the hunt through a Swedish environmental group’s website.

Last week, former screen idol turned animal rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot also blasted the hunt as “retrograde” in a letter to Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren and urged a halt to the cull.