Scandinavian wolf conservation and Sweden travel log
This past spring the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) asked Scott to conduct an independent assessment on the viability of the recently recolonized wolf population in Scandinavia, and to provide recommendations for appropriate science-based criteria to ensure that the wolf population in Sweden was reaching or maintaining “favorable conservation status” (FCS) according to European Union guidelines. FCS is somewhat similar to the status a species listed under the Endangered Species Act here in the United States must reach in order to be de-listed, though FCS is oriented as a positive goal.
While wolf conservation and management in Scandinavia is extremely controversial – as it is here in the U.S. – Scott decided it would be a challenge worth taking on, both for the opportunity to deliver science-based recommendations directly to policy makers and to provide his carnivore obsessed graduate student Jennifer Feltner with a taste of what she might be getting into with her own career path.
SEPA also asked the researchers and scientists at SKANDULV, the Scandinavian Wolf Project, to conduct a similar assessment, so that the results of both reports could be compared prior to delivering final recommendations to the Swedish Parliament.
Over the course of the summer, and with additional help from graduate student Alex Kumar, Scott and Jen poured over hundreds of publications, government reports, previous population viability analyses on the Scandinavian wolf population (which primarily occupies Sweden, but also a portion of non-EU member state Norway) and European Union legal documents to write their report, submitting a draft report to SEPA in mid-August.
As this deadline conveniently coincided with the European Mammal Congress in Stockholm which Scott already planned to attend, SEPA invited Scott and Jen to present and discuss their findings, along with the SKANDULV team to a group of managers, policymakers and interested scientists and researchers from Sweden and Norway at a meeting at SEPA headquarters the following week in Stockholm.
In between the conference and the meeting however, Jen and Scott were able to escape to Uppsala for the weekend with Dr. Per Sjögren Gulve, who was not only organizing the SEPA studies, but a former colleague of Scott’s at UC Santa Cruz. It was a great opportunity to catch up, see some of the Swedish countryside and explore the original conservation biologist – Carl Linnaeus’ – hometown.
The meeting in Stockholm the following Monday included presentations by the Mills team and two separate presentations from the SKANDULV team, which was followed by questioning from the other participants. There were several heated debates but also a large amount of consensus amongst the different groups.
Following their return to the US, Scott and Jen worked with the SKANDULV team to develop a joint statement of recommendations and areas of consensus for SEPA. Considering this document, the original reports and the discussions held earlier in Stockholm, SEPA drafted a set of recommendations for the management of the Scandinavian wolf population which was then sent to the Swedish Parliament and made public on SEPA’s website.
We probably won’t know what the Swedish parliament will decide until the end of the year, but we will keep you posted. Whatever the case is, it was a fascinating process to be involved in, we greatly enjoyed working with the extremely talented teams at SKANDULV and SEPA, and we hope our recommendations will contribute to improved management of both the wolf population and human-wildlife conflict in Sweden.