Norway has announced plans to kill more than two-thirds of its remaining wolves, justifying the action as protection for livestock. The plan has sparked outrage by conservationists.
Three wolf packs, including pups, will be shot by hunters during Norway's annual hunting season, which runs from Oct. 1 to March 31. Last year, 11,571 people applied for licenses to kill just 16 wolves. This season's allotment would mark the largest wolf kill in the country since 1911.
"This is an outright mass slaughter. Something similar we have not seen in nearly 100 years, when the policy was that all large carnivores would be destroyed," Nina Jensen, CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) of Norway, told The Guardian. "To shoot 70 percent of the wolf population is not worthy of an environmental nation."
She goes on to note, "This decision includes a wolf family in Letjenna who have not taken or eaten one sheep since they established themselves there in the winter of 2011/2012."
In Norway, farmers release about 2 million sheep to open grazing lands. Of these, estimates are that 120,000 go missing each year. Those lost include natural accidents, being hit by cars and trains, and predators including wolves and wolverines. Estimates for the numbers lost to wolf predation vary from 380 to 1,800 and may be influenced by Norway's compensation policy. Along with many other European countries, Norway compensates farmers for livestock losses due to wolves, creating an impetus for inflated numbers.
Europe has an estimated population of 13,000 wolves, with about 400 in Scandinavia. Protection for European wolves varies by country. Sweden and Norway have often been at odds in their approach to wolf management, where Norwegian's former government minister in charge of environmental issues, Erik Solheim, said in 2011, "Everyone knows that the wolf doesn't pay attention to borders. Wolves from Sweden can come into Norway and do great damage, and therefore it would help if can cooperate on this." Solheim is currently Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program.
With Only 45 #RedWolves Left in the Wild, Confinement Plan Won't Save Species https://t.co/S9pfXuwUFt @CenterForBioDiv @Katie_Cleary— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1473774464.0
In Western Europe, Spain has a population of 2,000-3,000 wolves, but can be hunted in most areas. Italy's 600-700 wolves are protected and the population is growing at about six percent a year. Countries in Eastern Europe including Poland, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey have populations ranging from 700 to 7,000.
Wolf skins for sale at the Bergen fish market in Norway.Credit: Wikipedia Commons
Conservation biologist Crystal Crown writes, "It does appear that Norwegian farmers have a vendetta against wolves that is not rooted in fact, but rather fear and hate. If anything, the culling program could serve to reinforce these fears by making the farmers feel justified." She notes that Norway maintains its wolf population at around 20 animals, calling it "artificially low numbers."
The wolf hunt in Norway comes as a recent study, published Sept. 1 in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, questions the effectiveness of predator control on livestock protection.
The Planet's Most Dangerous Predator Is Us https://t.co/KTKhEAzcda @albertarabbit @ejfoundation @OhioEnviro— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1473801324.0
"Livestock owners traditionally use various non-lethal and lethal methods to protect their domestic animals from wild predators. However, many of these methods are implemented without first considering experimental evidence of their effectiveness in mitigating predation-related threats or avoiding ecological degradation," states the report.
It remains to be seen whether the protests by the WWF and others will have any impact on Norway's plans.
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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