The Scandinavian wolf was more or less extinct, but the last 20-30 years there has been considerable effort to reintroduce and/or strengthen the population. And so far this winter nature management have tracked 52 to 56 wolves in Norway. Half of these are so far only registered in Norway, while the other half, ie 26 to 28 wolves, are located in the border territory to Sweden. That means they come and go across the border.
In Norway the population of wolf was more or less extinct around 1860, according to scientific statistics, and in the years since it was only occasional transient individuals. The wolf was listed as a protected species in Sweden in 1965, and in Norway in 1973. But genetic analyzes indicate that the Scandinavian wolf was extinct, and that it was immigrants from the east, from Russia and Finland, and their descendants, who eventually got the benefit of wolf protection. The joint Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish populations in the mid-1970s, was probably not exceeding ten animals.
From 1966 untill 1980 there were no wolf shot in Norway, according to Statistics Norway that have such figures back to 1846 for all the big predators. Suddenly there were wolf again, but not many. Genetic studies show that the current Scandinavian tribe originates from a single pair of wolves with Eastern origin, but that another male came in 1990-91, according to facts from the swedish authorities. Here are maps that shows todays distribution of wolves in Europe and Norway.
The wolf is a a controversial animal in both Sweden and Norway, because it can kill livestock and reindeers, dogs and for certain a lot of moose, deer and roedeers. You can almost say that people who live in the towns and cities loves the wolf and wants more of them, while many people in the countryside see the wolf as a problem, as do many hunters and dogowners who live in wolf-land. That is especially the southern parts of both countries.
There are more wolves in Sweden than in Norway, but all together there are not enough fresh blood to keep the population viable says the scientists. The swedish government have decided to to use new and many says drastic methods to enhance the genetic strain in the wolves. That is releasing wolf puppies from the zoo to wild adoptive mothers, and to translocate wild wolves from Finland and maybe Russia. The places to release the new wolves is supposed to be announced before the end of March this year. But there are a lot of protests, and at least one swedish zoo have declined to deliver wolf puppies during the last days. And a new law might make the landowners to decline any new wolves, and that might stop the whole projects, writes the newspaper DN.se.
The wolf is a critically endangered species in Norway and Sweden. Around the world there are an estimated 200,000 in 57 countries, compared to up to 2 million in earlier times, according to the organization Defenders of Wildlife.
These images are all photographed in a norwegian zoo, Namsskogan Familiepark. It is a typically norwegian zoo with almost only nordic species, and big enclosures that gives the animals some space. I have some more photos from the wolves and other animals in this zoo in my web gallery.