By Shreya Sharma
[OSLO] Norway is the safest and happiest place in the world, but it seems so only for humans.
The Norwegian Government is organizing the slaughter of dozens of wolves, for allegedly being a threat to farmers’ sheep. While the farmer-versus-wolf-conflict is years-old in the country, home to over 2 million sheep, the government is now backing up the slaughter which was previously illegal.
Of the 56 wolves estimated to be in the country, 42 are to be culled.
Farmers associations see no way sheep and wolves could co-exist. “We do not see any measures that can make it possible to keep sheep and wolf in the same outfield, in the same time and space,” said Finn Erlend Ødegård, a senior advisor at farmer’s union Norges Bondelag.
“Wolves do kill sheep, calves and reindeer in large scale when in the same outfield area. We have to choose between wolf or production of meat, wool, and milk,” he added.
But a few are frantically trying to save this critically endangered population.
Conservation and animal rights activists point out that about 1% of the sheep deaths are caused by wolves, whereas 91% of such incidents are non-predator related, such as road collisions.
In 2016, only 1,600 out of 104,500 sheep losses were attributed to wolves.
“It is a ridiculous statement to say that wolves threaten farmers because humans are actually bigger threats,” says Mateo Lundstøl, a 17-year-old human and animal rights activist.
Mateo has organised several demonstrations in thirteen cities around the world together with Direct Action Everywhere(DxE), a global NGO seeking the international community’s help.
The red-listed wolves, a protected species in Europe, are covered by the multinational Bern Convention, the Nature Biodiversity Act, and the Norwegian Constitution itself.
Conservation groups are also worried that the action of the Norwegian government of disregarding its own laws and breaching international agreements could set an example for other countries, putting the lives of more such animals at risk.
Ole Rolfson, an environmentalist and Community Organizer at DxE Oslo explains that wolves are a vital part of the ecosystem as they control the natural cycle. When wolves were reintroduced into the Yellowstone national park in the U.S.A, it resulted in the resurrection of multiple other wildlife populations and vegetation.
He says that the ecological disasters would follow if the entire species go extinct.
Mateo started a petition against this. But multiple efforts, including a lawsuit by WWF, have failed.
Mateo looks disgruntled and disappointed at his government. “I hope but honestly do not think it (the situation) is going to change,” he confesses “it’s gone too far now, and the government is far too ignorant.”