March 28, 2023

Should We Slaughter Half of the Wolves in Sweden?

Reference: “Planned cull threatens Swedish wolf population” by Linda Laikre, Fred W. Allendorf, Jouni Aspi, Carlos Carroll, Love Dalén, Richard Fredrickson, Christina Hansen Wheat, Philip Hedrick, Kerstin Johannesson, Marty Kardos, Rolf O. Peterson, Mike Phillips, Nils Ryman, Jannikke Räikkönen, Carles Vilà, Christopher W. Wheat, Cristiano Vernesi and John A. Vucetich, 7 July 2022, Science.DOI: 10.1126/ science.add5299.

A wolf in Sweden. Credit: Christina Hansen Wheat
Scientists Say No
Recently, the Swedish Parliament revealed its intention to seriously cut the number of wolves in Sweden, from 400 to 200. Now, scientists are reacting to this goal. 18 scientists from 5 nations alert that such a cull will even more endanger this already very vulnerable types in a letter that was recently released in Science.
The letters authors point out findings from extensive hereditary monitoring of the population, which show that there has actually been continual hereditary seclusion causing extremely high levels of inbreeding, with individuals being on average as carefully associated as siblings. Current studies focusing on the full genome of these wolves reveal hereditary erosion with considerable losses of variability, showing the terrible effect of this inbreeding.
The authors stress that to improve the bad preservation scenario of Swedish wolves the population size need to increase and comprehensive connection with populations over Norway-Sweden-Finland must be secured. The authors are researchers in population, evolutionary and preservation genetics/genomics, conservation biology, wildlife ecology, and ethology.