Should We Slaughter Half of the Wolves in Sweden?

Swedish Wolf

A wolf in Sweden. Credit: Christina Hansen Wheat

Scientists Say No

Recently, the Swedish Parliament announced its intention to severely cut the number of wolves in Sweden, from 400 to 200. Now, scientists are responding to this objective. 18 scientists from 5 nations warn that such a cull will further endanger this already very fragile species in a letter that was recently published in Science.

The letter’s authors cite findings from extensive genetic surveillance of the population, which show that there has been sustained genetic isolation leading to very high levels of inbreeding, with individuals being on average as closely related as siblings. Recent studies concentrating on the full genome of these wolves reveal genetic erosion with substantial losses of variability, demonstrating the devastating impact of this inbreeding.

The authors stress that to improve the poor conservation situation of Swedish wolves the population size should increase and extensive connectivity with populations over Norway-Sweden-Finland should be secured. The authors are researchers in population, evolutionary and conservation genetics/genomics, conservation biology, wildlife ecology, and ethology.

Reference: “Planned cull endangers 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

7 Comments on "Should We Slaughter Half of the Wolves in Sweden?"

  1. Sure, why not!?! They kill all the “defective” babies…

  2. Clyde Spencer | August 5, 2022 at 7:34 pm | Reply

    I’m unclear about what the long-term goal is. When a species of pupfish in the Basin and Range has evolved into a distinct species following the end of the last great glaciation, every effort is made to protect the isolated populations of different species. However, when a species of wolf is becoming similarly inbred, the suggestion is to intervene by increasing the genetic diversity with cross-breeding with similar wolves. We highly value inbred dogs, calling them breeds, and make an effort to prevent genetic diversity. Just what are we trying to accomplish? Why isn’t there a similar call to try to interbreed Death Valley pupfish with Devil’s Hole pupfish? It is thought that the North American Red Wolf is a hybrid with coyotes. Why isn’t there a demand to introduce other wolves to ‘purify’ the genetic line?

  3. johnny b. Goode. | August 5, 2022 at 11:30 pm | Reply

    Perhaps other invasive and inbreeding species can also be considered for a culling.

  4. Jake Hawthorne | August 9, 2022 at 6:11 am | Reply

    No, kill half the great whites, tiger and bull sharks in the ocean so i can swim in peace. Humans have hunted majestic creatures: wolfs, american bison, and whales to the bring of extinction but leave the sharks alone…humans are f***ing idiots. Plus there would be more tuna.

  5. Import some Canadian wolves to freshen their DNA.

  6. Dude of civilization | August 12, 2022 at 2:49 am | Reply

    Another prime example of why good ol’ homo sapiens suck.

  7. I agree with Clyde here. This wouldn’t be an act of stewardship over nature. It’s an act of control. Species emerge and die out like this on their own. It’s known that humans had a bottleneck as well at some point before recorded history.

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