Saturday, February 5, 2011

Yet another wolf massacre: letter to Norway´s Minister for the Environment, Mr. Erik Solheim

Thor has sent a letter of complaint to Erik Solheim, Norway's Minister for the Environment, protesting the pending massacre of seven wolves in Norway. The pursuit of two wolves in Finnmark and two in Oppland is already underway, and the killing of three wolves in Hedmark district is set to begin February 15, just as the recent massacre of 20 wolves in Sweden is winding down. One wolf was executed in southern Norway already in December.

Please send your own letters to Minister Erik Solheim (,, protesting this barbaric and anti-scientific massacre of a critically endangered wolf population. Feel free to copy text from the letter below if you wish; add your own personal touch if you have time. Please cc to Janne Sollie, Director, Norway's Directorate of Nature Management (Janne.Sollie@DIRNAT.NO) and Heidi Sørensen, Secretary, Ministry for the Environment ( Letters may be accorded more weight if they manifest physically. If you can be bothered, send snail mail versions to

Erik Solheim, Minister for the Environment
Postboks 8013 Dep, N-0030 Oslo, Norway

Janne Sollie, Director, Directorate for Nature Management
Postboks 5672 Sluppen, 7485 Trondheim, Norway

Heidi Sørensen, State Secretary, Ministry for the Environment
Postboks 8013 Dep, N-0030 Oslo, Norway


Minister Solheim,

Please stop the imminent massacre of wolves, one of the most critically endangered species in Norway.

We know you Norwegians fancy yourselves big movers and shakers in the international environment arena, with your $3 billion promised for tropical forest conservation, your projected role in international negotiations, “your” Brundtland commission, etc., but that doesn’t count for much when you haven’t the wherewithal to ensure that allocated money brings actually results and you don’t deliver at home.

In 2001, one of your predecessors sent Government “hunters” out to kill 10 of the 28 wolves in the country at the time, resorting at last to arial killing from helicopters to get the job done. In 2005, the Government of Norway sanctioned the licensed persecution of five wolves out of an estimated 21-26 in the country the previous winter (a handful of which where already known to be dead), destroying three of the four established pairs/packs in the process. Now your ministry is poised to allow yet another slaughter of beautiful and innocent creatures, if you do not overturn local decisions to kill seven wolves in Hedmark (starting February 15), and in Oppland and Finnmark (already started, running until March 31)—in addition to the one executed in Vest-Agder in December. Eight wolves out of the approximately 30-35 individuals estimated in the country is more than twice as large a proportion of the Norwegian population as the situation in Sweden where the last few individuals are currently being shot down from a quota of 20—and for which Sweden has received such heavy criticism (including from the European Commission which has started infringement proceedings against Sweden under EU environmental law, and criticized Sweden for the arbitrary nature of this extermination policy and the obvious lack of a scientific basis for it).

Norwegian law may be weak on this issue, but not as weak as your bureaucracy choses to interpret it. Furthermore, you should make policy that clarifies these interpretations in a more precautionary direction, or simply issue better guidelines and decisions. It would be easy to use the precautionary principle, firmly established in Norwegian law, to overturn the current permits. One need only refer to the lack of scientific analysis justifying the killing of such a large proportion of such a critically endangered population since Norwegian law specifies that such killing can only proceed if it does not jeopardize the viability of the species. It would be easy to demand analyses that clearly demonstrate that these murders can proceed without jeopardizing further the viability of the population, both in Norway and the Scandinavian wolf population as a whole.

You could easily make the argument that current Norwegian law, your international commitments, and the intention of the Norwegian Parliament in its white paper on carnivore management (even though Parliament appears to have been misled due to the poor quality of information provided by the agencies for which you are responsible), preclude another massacre on this desperate, heavily persecuted population. We understand that there are political pressures on your Government to proceed with this massacre, but you could easily argue that current science and current law does not permit you to let political considerations trump sound management principles. You hardly need to be an expert in population dynamics or population genetics to understand that wiping out such a large proportion of such a small population—already critically endangered and suffering from severe inbreeding and founder effect—makes an already precarious situation significantly worse. This population needs to grow out of its current bottleneck as quickly as possible, away from its current state so close to extinction and it needs to be supplemented with fresh immigrants from outside the southern Scandinavian population.

Your Directorate for Nature Management is neglecting its job, by not informing you, or the Norwegian public, how much these massacres are increasing the extinction risk for the Norwegian and the southern Scandinavian wolf populations. For some incomprehensible reason they have neglected to carry out the necessary analysis. They do not have the competence to do such an analysis themselves, and for unknown reasons they have neglected to request such an analysis from someone who does. They either don’t want to or they don’t understand that they ought to. It seems like they do not understand that this is a quantitative issue that has to be simulated in iterative models, and that, particularly, if such an analysis is to conclude that such killings “do not jeopardize the viability of the population” (as they claim) then such a simulation model has to be very good indeed.

Your wolf “management” policy is more accurately described as your wolf extinction policy, involving as it does these frequent mass killings, limiting the wolf’s range to a narrow strip near the Swedish border in southern Norway, making successful immigration from Finland/Russia extremely difficult for the poor individuals that try it, and the de facto cap on the population at three breeding pairs/packs. By not making the likely population dynamic consequences of this policy clear to legislators and to the voting public, you are in clear violation of the Århus Convention (the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters). In order to do a responsible job on biodiversity protection and conservation of endangered species, you have to at least be capable enough to at least hire staff that are both competent and well-intentioned.

There is copious expertise internationally that could help you design responsible carnivore management regimes. IUCN, where you are a member, is just one example of an agency that may facilitate such an undertaking for you.

Please take this opportunity to overrule the local carnivore councils that have given permission for the pending massacre, based on the lack of a scientific basis for their rulings. Respond to the complaints you have received and overturn these horrific rulings to let these wolves live to contribute to the future fitness and viability of the population.


Thor, God of Thunder


Fátima Pestana said...

Thank you my dear "boss", as Ioannis calls you. You are truly someone we all have to follow and support.
Thanks for continuing your and mine "good fight" for all the wolves in the world.
Love and admire you so much,

Anonymous said...

Pleasr stop this hunting of Wolves today!!! What in hell are you doing, have you to many Wolves trere, I dont think so.

Anonymous said...

the lord created all creatures for a reason.The wolf is a helper to mother nature,he helps to keep the population of herds down to a managable size,their beauty is breathtaking and their history is immense.The wolf was on earth before human kind walked upright.We should respect the wolf breed,If things where turned around and the animals had ownership of all the lands,would they be as blood thristy?Peace Be~ Mama Bear

Caroline MacPherson said...

I am very dissapointed in Norway for killing the wolves you have killed so far. I'm 100% positive this is a " viking way " of thinking, and the world is watching and I am spreading the word. I live in Canada and I found out from someone in the United States. We all know what your are doing now. I urge you to stop this madness and show the world you are a compassionate country . Do you want to follow Sweden to court?. I have never been to Norway and nor sure if I will ever visit now that this is happening. Tourism now is about seeing things alive and well and eco-systems that all species can co-exist in. You are showing the world right now that you have went back into the "VIKING AGE" and are barbaric. What else can I say? Your actions speak loudly to the world.

Caroline MacPherson
Nova Scotia

Tormod V. Burkey said...

Thank you, Caroline, and everyone who has sent letters and commented. Unfortunately, the Norwegian Government has a way of not listening to reason. Science and morality seem to be four-letter words to this Government.

Minnesota har 100 times as many wolves as Norway, on 2/3 the area. Go figure...

Keep those letters coming. There are still four wolves on the kill list here. :-(

Mette Jacobsen said...

lad så de ulve være!!!Ulvene vælger ikke selv!!!

Mette Jacobsen