The lynx is Sweden’s most popular carnivore, according to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Sweden has granted licenses for the hunting of 201 lynxes throughout March. This is more than double the number from recent years.
It comes just weeks after the Scandinavian country approved the largest wolf cull in modern history.
Shockingly, this move appears to have no ulterior motive other than trophy hunting, as these wild animals pose no threat to humans or livestock.
Svenska Jägareförbundet, Sweden’s hunter’s association, told the Guardian that “the hunt is absolutely not linked to any danger to humans. Neither is wolf hunting – there are no documented cases of wolves attacking humans in Swedish modern times.
“The lynx hunt is more about the excitement, and for some hunters, of course, the skin is the motivation.”
In Europe, the Eurasian lynx is the third largest predator, after the brown bear and the wolf.
Despite being one of the widest-ranging species of cats, the overall population is on the verge of extinction due to factors such as food shortages, inbreeding, habitat loss, vehicle collisions, and fur poaching.
While conservation efforts have revived the population, the cats remain critically endangered, and their population is dwindling to the point that they may become the first cat species to go extinct in 2,000 years.
Lynx populations in France have also declined to around 120–150 adults. Based on DNA findings, the country’s authorities also estimated that the cat’s genetic diversity was so low that it may go extinct within the next 30 years.
In comparison, Sweden has around 1,450 lynx in the country, although that is about 300 fewer than it had 10 years ago.
But the Swedish environmental agency Naturvardsverket states that the country only needs 870 feral cats to maintain a healthy population, which means the extra cats can be expendable.
Nevertheless, wild animal hunting is prohibited by the EU Habitats Directive except for preventing livestock damage or for public safety. Therefore, application of these conditions to justify lynx hunting is “strongly questionable.”
Lynx hunting program breaches EU Habitats Directive
WWF predator expert Benny Gafwert said: “We do not think that hunters can apply for these exceptions, and we have informed the European Commission.”
He added: “That hunting occurs, we do not, in itself, have a problem with, but the extent to which it occurs in relation to the low damage caused by the lynx is unwarranted.”
Animal rights advocacy group Svenska Rovdjursföreningen condemned the new authorisation and called the new cull ‘unethical and unsustainable’. It added that the “trophy hunt starts right in the middle of the lynx’s short mating season, which is a clear breach of the EU Habitats Directive.”
The group has launched a petition calling for this cruel trophy hunting practice to be brought to a halt.
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