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Poaching ongoing threat to Sweden's wolves

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Wildlife conservationists say wolves in Sweden are threatened by poaching, an estimated two-thirds of which goes undetected and unreported.

A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society says over half of all deaths of Swedish wolves is the result of illegal poaching, the BBC reported Wednesday.

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Without years of persecution and poaching Swedish wolves would be four times more abundant than they are today, the study estimates.

The Swedish wolf faces more threats than just poaching, conservationists say.

Wolves went extinct in Sweden in the 1970s, and the population has since re-established itself from just a handful of migratory Finnish wolves that took over the empty habitat areas.

However, since all wolves in Sweden today descended from these few founding individuals, the population is highly inbred and suffers from skeletal abnormalities and problems reproducing,

Poaching leaves the decreasing number of wolves at even more risk of inbreeding, wildlife experts say.

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