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Wolf population on the rise

 

Researchers think that Norway’s tiny wolf population, nearly wiped out a decade ago, may have grown dramatically this summer. That pleases conservationists, but worries ranchers.

This wolf sparked fear in an eastern rural town a few years ago, when it ventured into a residential area.

PHOTO: VEGARD MOBERGET/SCANPIX

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The total wolf population in southern Scandinavia may be up by more than 50 percent, if the 23 known wolf pairs in Norway and Sweden all bore litters.

Newspaper Nationen reported Thursday that the 23 pairs could have borne more than 100 new wolf pups, since the average litter amounts to around five pups.

That would raise the estimated wolf population in both Norway and Sweden from at least 130 to around 230. With a 10 percent death rate, that would mean an increase of 59 percent.

Ranchers who release their sheep for traditional open grazing were likely to feel further threatened by the rise in the wolf population. They wage a constant battle against predators, and often have been at odds with efforts to restore Norway's once-nearly extinct wolf population.

Forest owners also are unhappy, claiming that hungry wolves can kill a moose a day during the summer and thus reduce their income from the granting of hunting rights in the fall.

Wolf researcher Petter Wabakken told Nationen last week that use of a GPS, field workers and dogs revealed that a wolf pair in the border area known as Gräsmarkreviret killed at least 24 moose and eight sheep during the course of four weeks last summer.

The research was carried out in a project by Hedmark College and the Scandinavian wolf research organization Skandulv.

Some landowners are demanding compensation from the state for the animals killed by wolves.