Poaching is not the only threat to the Swedish wolf.
These large carnivores went extinct in Sweden in the 1970s, and the population has since re-established itself after a handful of migratory Finnish wolves took over the empty territories.
Today, all 250 or so Swedish wolves have descended from these few founding individuals.
And so the population is highly inbred and suffers from skeletal abnormalities and problems reproducing.
Further reducing the number of wolves by poaching leaves this population very vulnerable to further inbreeding, explained Dr Chapron.
Story by BBC News. (Read more)
A new study suggest that illegal killing of wolves accounts for more than half the deaths of wolves in Sweden. 17 August 2011
The study shows that more than two thirds of poaching of wolves go undetected.
"Many have speculated that poaching levels are high for many threatened species of carnivores," said Chris Carbone from the Zoological Society of London.
"This study presents an important step in trying to quantify this hidden threat," he added.
The new study predicts the size of the wolf Swedish population each year based on counts from the previous year.
These counts are based on radio-tracked wolves and the more traditional 'footprint count', used in Sweden for over 10 years to estimate wolf numbers.
Counting of canines
The researchers' estimates took account of confirmed cases of wolf mortality - such as when a wolf is killed on the road, dies from disease or is found killed.
However, when the team, based at Grimso Wildlife Research Station in Sweden, compared the expected numbers produced by their models to the actual number of wolves in the wild, they found they were over estimating the size of the population.
Conservation biologist Guillaume Chapron, and one of the team, suspects that 'cryptic poaching', poaching that goes undetected, accounts for this difference.
The poaching we see is the "tip of the iceberg," he said.
The researchers predict that without the last decade of poaching, wolves would have numbered around a thousand by 2009, four times the number reported that year.
Wolves are known to kill the dogs that many Swedes use to hunt moose, and despite up to four year prison sentence if caught poaching, a few people do not hestitate to take a shot at a wolf.
Photo by BBC News
On the insistence of the EU the Sweden authorities have cancelled the hunting for the winter 2011-2012 (January) The ceiling of a maximum 210 wolves will also be lifted temporarily.
Andreas Carlgren , environmental Minister says that they will work to have licensed hunts restored in 2012 - 2013. He says that Sweden cannot have unlimited numbers of wolves and that Sweden authorities will do all in their power to regain authority to make decisions on these matters without the EU interference. He says that the people who needs to make the decisions are the people who suffer most from the presence of wolves... the live stock farmers.
Be it as it may... no hunting will take place other than Governmental hunts to eliminate problem animals... we should keep an eye on that one...
HUNT IS OFF!!!
17 August 2011