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Although the large carnivores are formally protected long ago and Norway has ratified international environmental agreements to secure the existence of threatened species within its territory, the old mentality and conventional attitudes prevail. As a matter of fact, Norway initiated the Bern Convention which included keeping the large carnivores in viable populations within national borders. The recent destructive management policy has shown that Norway meets its international obligations only to a limited degree regarding these species. National parks, thought of abroad as explicitly protected areas for rare and vulnerable species, are primarily established as recreational areas for human beings. Furthermore, important factors in the national park management are private large cervid hunting interests and hundreds of thousands of sheep left to fend for themselves during the summer. If the large predators attempt to establish themselves in some of the parks they become systematically and efficiently chased and killed by the environmental authorities.

The Norwegian judicial system has ruled that Norway is not under any obligations to abide by the Bern Convention as regards to large carnivores. Although always referring to international commitments, all practice demonstrates that Norwegian authorities define viable populations to be the levels of convenience. And the responsibility to protect these threatened animals are left with Sweden, Finland and Russia. In Norway, the Bern Convention is hardly any longer worth the paper it is written on according to some environmentalists. The obligations following national law also is rarely acted upon in the management of large carnivores and the enforcing of justice regarding poaching is sadly deficient. Every day during grazing season more than a thousand sheep die from other causes than predators. The main cause is really the practice of sheep management, i.e. leaving the sheep in Norwegian wilderness for 3-4 months. The wolf kills a few hundreds during these months, yet the species is declared the main target of blame. It is in fact pointed to as the main reason for the depopulation of the rural areas whereas the politicians themselves are behind the closing down of 4.000 farms on an annual basis. Of course, blaming an animal comes in handy in this situation. Lately the Parliament has been occupied with a governmental large carnivore White Paper with a deadline on 13th May 2004. It is the third WP on this matter in later years - the previous ones are from 1992 and 1997. The government and the MPs are in the process of deciding on a large carnivore management which for all practical purposes is an extermination policy of the species. The considerations for sheep owners and hunting interests are given priority on the expense of our natural heritage and the biological diversity. The responsibility for maintaining the species is even more left to our neighbouring countries. Here is a summing up of today´s situation for four of the large carnivores in Norway :

The government is planning a management where the wolf is allowed to exist in a narrow zone close to the Swedish border in the southeastern part ofthe country. The total number of wolves is intended not to exceed "a few" reproducing unities, which after some pressure is revealed to mean 2-3 family groups within this limited zone. Some of the non-governing political parties want a larger part of the country set aside for the wolf and have suggested a zone of approx. 60.000 km2 which in size compares with a country like Slovakia with a population of several hundred wolves. In this proposed zone the opposing politicians have suggested a population goal of 4 - four - wolf family groups! The most important areas for the wolf today, holding approx. 15 wolves, is to be excluded from the zone! What this means in practice is the extermination of the species on Norwegian soil.

The Norwegian brown bear population still comprise of 30-40 individuals compared to more than a thousand in Sweden. Every year hunting permits are released on bears killing domestic animals. This is the main cause of the non-existing growth of this small population which for the most part are males roaming from neighbouring countries.

The wolverine is hunted effectively round the year. Even if the population has been relatively stable in later years, breeding animals are taken out systematically along with roaming individuals in most of the country. Professional state hunters kill them even within management areas set aside for the species. This spring a number of dens have been dug out and the females executed together with the cubs, in the latter case often by means of lethal injections. Huge resources and lots of people in the state management system is used to control the wolverine population in Norway. Sweden has far more wolverines than Norway and only limited culling is allowed. By including far too many individuals in the hunting quotas during the winter hunt (February-April) Norwegian authorities have systematically deprived large areas of lynx (February - April) and dramatically reduced the population in the last ten years. The population is halved and isprobably below 200 individuals after the hunt this year.

Norwegian politicians are at the moment in the process of establishing a large carnivore management which again is likely to shock the environmental world. The minuscule population goals will probably have dramatic long term effects. Neither our politicians nor nature managers care much about external opinions. It seems more important to continue the pretence of Norway being the world environmental leader. We encourage people with interest in the matter to convey their views and suggestions regarding the treatment of these species in Norway. It may be of great importance during the final handling of the matter in Parliament. But time is short! Please forward this mail to other persons or organizations that also could help.

Relevant email addresses are the Minister of the Environment:
"Minister of the Environment Brrge Brende" <miljovernministeren@md.dep.no>,
<boerge.brende@md.dep.no>, <bbr@md.dep.no>

and the Parliamental Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment whose members are:

"Bror Yngve Rahm" <bror-yngve.rahm@stortinget.no>, "Hallgeir H. Langeland"
<hallgeir.langeland@stortinget.no>, "Ryvind Vaksdal"
<oyvind.vaksdal@stortinget.no>, "Sylvia Brustad"
<sylvia.brustad@stortinget.no>, "Inger S. Enger"
<inger.enger@stortinget.no>, "Ryvind Halleraker"
<oyvind.halleraker@stortinget.no>, "Rolf Terje Klungland"
<rolf-terje.klungland@stortinget.no>, "Synnrve Konglevoll"
<synnove.konglevoll@stortinget.no>, "Ingmar Ljones"
<ingmar.ljones@stortinget.no>, "Ingvild Vaggen Malvik"
<ingvild.malvik@stortinget.no>, "Siri A. Meling"
<ingvild.malvik@stortinget.no>, "Leit Frode Onarheim"

Viggo Ree
information adviser
The Norwegian Carnivore and Raptor Society
Postal address: P. O. Box 195, N-2150 LRNES, Norway
Telephone: +47-22232389
E-mail: styret@fvr.no
Private address: Pamperudbakken, N-3530 RRYSE, Norway
Private e-mail: <viggoree@online.no> - <viggo@ree.no>
Telephone: +47-32157715 / +47-98645775
Telefax: +47-32157822

Yngve Kvebck
The Norwegian Carnivore and Raptor Society
Postal address: P. O. Box 195, N-2150 LRNES, Norway
Telephone: +47-22232389
E-mail: styret@fvr.no
Private address: Maridalsveien 225C, N-0467 OSLO, Norway
Private e-mail: <yk@bredband.no>
Telephone: +47-22950866 / +47-91544191

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