Researcher blasts Swedish wolf hunt

March 30, 2013 at 1:25 PM

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 30 (UPI) -- A French researcher says a wolf hunt in Sweden intended to reduce inbreeding will have no effect on inbreeding and is "an abuse of science."

The Swedish government authorized the wolf hunt, targeting 16 wolves from the most inbred packs, The Local.se reported Friday.

However, Guillaume Chapron, an ecologist who has studied wolves in France and Sweden, said in a letter to the Science journal it is "nonsense to kill animals in order to reduce inbreeding."

"Would we do the same if it had been about woodpeckers? Of course not," Chapron wrote. "People would think you were crazy.

"The last wolf hunt in Sweden is an abuse of science," said Chapron, who has worked as an assistant professor at the Grimso research station in Bergslagen and has been following Sweden's wolf policies.

He said Swedish authorities are simply trying to reduce the country's wolf population now about 180.

"A total of 180 animals does not have favorable conservation status. If Sweden gets away with this, there is a risk that other special interest groups in Europe exploit the situation," Chapron said.

Olof Liberg, coordinator at Skandulv, the Scandinavian Wolf Research Project, which provided scientific evidence used to justify the wolf hunt, said selective hunting would reduce the inbred wolf population.

"In the short term, selective hunting reduces the level of inbreeding. And 'favorable conservation status' is not a biological concept as Guillaume believes, it is a political one. No one knows exactly what it means," Liberg said.

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