POLL: Should the annual moose hunt in Sweden be stopped?

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A mild-mannered monster of the Scandinavian forests is setting Swede against Swede as farmers and hunters bicker over how to coexist with the world’s largest population of moose.

Hunting season will open in the south of Sweden on 12 October, when more than a quarter of a million Swedes will fell about 90,000 moose in a matter of weeks.

But for farmers, whose livelihoods are threatened by moose, this is not enough.

“We need to shoot more moose,” says Bernard Andersson bitterly. For 10 years he has farmed on Orust, an island on Sweden’s picturesque west coast. The moose pillage the fodder he grows for his cattle, trample his crops when they settle down to sleep for the night and break down his fences, allowing his cows to wander.

In hunting season, which opens in southern Sweden on 12 October,about 90,000 moose will be killed in a matter of weeks. Photograph: Kjell-Erik Moseid/Rex Shutterstock

Farmers complain that as much as half of their crops are eaten or destroyed by the animals, forcing them to buy expensive feedstuffs. Apple trees on the island look like “mutilated bonsai”, they say, thanks to browsing moose.

In the forests, the picture gets worse. It’s not the moss the moose are devouring, but the young pine trees, creating a wasteland of dead and dying saplings. They are literally eating into one of the country’s main exports.

In winter an adult moose, which stands 2 metres high at the shoulder and can weigh up to 850kg, can consume 200 litres of pine needles every day, according to Sweden’s environmental protection agency. And they push over the larger trees to feed their young.

But for hunters, the flourishing moose population is key to providing adequate numbers of the animal for the first few weeks of the annual hunt, which has almost religious status in Sweden.

“People book holidays and go home to the villages where they came from to go hunting for a week. Schools and offices close. It’s a really social thing,” says Göran Bergquist, a moose specialist with the Swedish hunting association. “They don’t measure each year from 1 January, but before and after the moose hunt.”

Bernard Andersson, a beef farmer on the island of Orust, Sweden. ‘We need to shoot more moose.’ Photograph: David Crouch

By the middle of the last century moose numbers in Sweden were dangerously low, with open access and unrestricted hunting leading to overexploitation. But thanks to careful management, the total moose population in the country recovered and has stabilised at 400,000. The density of animals in the forest is three times that of Canada and 10 times that of Russia.

At the same time, the number of moose killed by hunters has risen tenfold since 1945 to about 100,000 each year. Half of these are “harvested” in the first few weeks of the the annual hunt.

Three years ago a new moose management system was introduced in an attempt to reach greater consensus between hunters and landowners over the size of each year’s cull. But the timber industry is still up in arms at the scale of damage to pine forests.

“If Volvo produced 100 cars and then tipped 30 into the sea, would that be acceptable?” asks Ronny Löfstrand of Sveaskog, the country’s largest forestry owner. “But that is the scale of losses we face.”

Odd Fredrikson, a landowner on Orust and chair of the regional moose management unit, says: “It is a serious problem for the Swedish economy – unlike farmers and the timber industry, hunters don’t pay taxes.”

On Orust the problems began several years ago, when hunters took out the bull moose but left the fertile females, says Ingalill Olsson, who has reared cattle on the island for 40 years. The result has been an explosion in the moose population – good for hunters, but a disaster for farmers.

Olsson says hunting interests dominate the moose management system. “Nobody listens to us,” she says. “The hunters are like a mafia, from the bottom to the highest levels of government. I have worked for years to build up my farm, and overnight it has been ripped up.”

Ingalill Olsson has reared cattle on Orust for 40 years. ‘No one listens to us.’ Photograph: David Crouch

On one thing hunters and farmers agree: shooting is the only way to keep the numbers down. Fredrikson says experiments with inflatable scarecrows literally fell flat when moose knocked them over after just a few days.

Andersson, the beef farmer, is resigned to a long battle to defend his livelihood. “The problem is we are spoiling someone’s hobby, their fun,” he says. “Hunters just live for that week in October.”

This article was first published by The Guardian on 28 Sep 2015.

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Kathy Mulry

This is a tough one. How would the United States like for other nations to say that we can no longer hunt Deer or Moose. Sweden is no different then we are, they have hunters just like we do, so who are we to say that they can not hunt anymore to feed their families.

Hubert Mollaret

A good bad example of what happens when you wipe out natural predators and replace them by stupid human ones.
And this is Europe, imagine what's going on in undeveloped countries…

Vicki Kunkel

Stop The Moosshunt!!!!!!

Jade Von L

stop all hunting of innocent animals!!

Despo Pullaro

The Moose was there before the farmers & now the farmers what to eradicate the Moose ?????? I think NOT. Tell farmers to learn how to co-exisit with the Moose ………..

Valerie Kerry

Why do you have to KILL anything ? its barbaric !!!!!

Kate Foley

All hunts world wide need to stop!

Morag Stewart

we are supposed to be the most intelligent species. I am quite sure with some thought, will and time this can be sorted to suit both moose and farmers.We can`t keep everything for ourselves and shouldn`t want to

Lisa Gibbs

Stop humans hunting they only take the best in the gene pool

Janice Lorraine

Simon Tucker I agree whole heartedly! In alot of countries regarding wildlife, they're answer to everything is to just slaughter them. I agree with another person on here that said humans need to learn to share this planet. It's not all just about them!!

Glyn Pollard

Just stop the killing

Andreas Kanon

You are not allowed to charge for hunting unless it's fenced in hunting. Moose hunting is managed by the government and by scientific studies of population sustainability.

Andreas Kanon

The Moose population in Sweden is a direct result of the forrest management. The clear cut areas generates a abundance of fresh growth and the moose population exploded in the 70's-80's. The numbers we are currently at is sustainable and doesn't generate to much car deaths due to accidents. The missconception is that this hunt is merely for fun, it's not. It's about population control due to artificially altering the forrest composition which is condusive to explosive growth in the moose population. As an example in 1982 174.741 moose were shot to try and drastically bring down the population. Fix… Read more »

Tara Wikramanayake

Please do not kill these majestic creatures.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

if you want to hunt, build a time machine and go back to the stone age!!!

Simon Tucker

First and foremost: hunting for fun has to be stopped – these psychopaths need locking up. If the Swedes didn't kill off their wolves, bears and lynx to protect their domestic animals (like all countries blessed with top predators – they cannot find a way to live with them) the numbers of Moose would not be such a problem. Perhaps if they did a scientific study to establish a manageable population size, that could be sustained by natural predation, there would be a case for a managed cull – but not an ad hoc slaughter – the trademark of hunters… Read more »



Ken Billington

Comment by Sharon Hopkins: Why can't these farmers put up secure fencing around their crops and cattle? They won’t spend the money and would rather have these moose killed; they would probably charge hunters a fee for killing these animals on their land.

Anne Grice

Humans should stop beign so selfish and learn to live with other living beings on this planet!


Läs detta om ni jagar älg tror inte de vet vilka olyckor som älgen ställer till med