Wierd News: “wolves….oh my!”

Sweden Culls its Wolf Population

An article from the BBC.

Well, well well…would you look at that? It seems like Sweden and Idaho have a lot more in common than I previously expected. Namely: a wolf problem.

Apparently the population of wolves in Sweden has recently exceeded its 210 wolf limit (Why 210? Don’t ask me…maybe it’s the same reason why a good bean soup must have exactly 239 beans). So Sweden has briefly declared an open season for hunters, just until the population resumes its 210-wolf quota. Around 10,000 hunters have set out of the snowy forests in search of the 20 or so total wolves they are allowed to kill. Do the math and it seems like the wolves are at a gross disadvantage. As it turns out, wolves are extremely cunning, well-adapted animals and can only be hunted in the winter because the only way they can be tracked is by their footprints in the snow. Otherwise, they vanish into the forest and are virtually impossible to find. Chalk one up to the wolves!

Now, I personally don’t have anything against wolves, but I am also not a rabbit. Nor a reindeer. Nor a herder of reindeer. If I was any of these, I’d have a different opinion, I am sure.

Nevertheless, the whole idea of controlling animal population is interesting from both a scientific and social standpoint. Does population control work? It is possible that over a long period of time will the 210 quota continue to be the appropriate number of wolves for Sweden. Conversely, someday, all of a sudden, we could find ourselves with an unsettling preponderance of rabbits due to lack of wolves—and our adherence to a single, strange number (210). Are we inadvertently fixing a value that should, in fact, be a variable? If hold the population of wolves fixed, will nature adjust accordingly? It seems, with the recent resurgence of wolf population that prompted this whole deal, it may already be trying. I’m sure there are loads of research and papers and fantastic computer simulations on this problem…I’ll get back to you on that.

Socially, I can’t decide whether the wolf-quota scheme is perfectly aligned with Scandinavian environmental philosophy or completely opposed to it. This unfortunate circumstance could be merely a side-effect of the fact that I do not yet fully understand Scandinavian environmental philosophy—nor know how to unify what I do understand of it into a cohesive and consistent theory. Again, I’ll get back to you on that. But back to the case of the wolf-quota. Controlling the wolf population seems very Scandinavian in it’s emphasis on moderation and balance: the hunters only hunt if the wolves get out of hand, allowing reindeer herders and farmers (and the rabbits!) to be happy and to the wolf species to conditionally thrive. It is ‘Stewardship of the Earth’ on an extreme level, and involves very careful monitoring of the species that would make even Linnaeus proud. On the other hand, it seems counterintuitive to the great cultural respect for a natural balance, and the “Deep Ecology” mantra for non-interference in nature (somewhat ironically, Norwegian Arne Naess, founder of the Deep Ecology movement, calls for populations control among humans). One thing is for certain: allowing short periods of monitored hunting of the wolves prevents the over-hunting that threatened the species with extinction years ago. But still, they are killing wolves.

Environmental Ethical dilemma, anyone?

And this, my friends, is one of the major reasons I’m fascinated by Sweden. Not the wolves, silly. The dilemma.

Expect more Sweden-Idaho comparisons in the near future.

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One Response to “Wierd News: “wolves….oh my!””

  1. hereandbackagain Says:

    Nice post. Your one is far more eloquent than the one I wrote after reading the same BBC report. 🙂

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