14 wolves killed in first hunt in Sweden in four decades

14 wolves killed in first hunt in Sweden in four decadesStockhom, Jan 3 - Hunters benefited from good snow cover Saturday and shot 14 of the 27 wolves allowed to be culled under the first licensed wolf hunt in Sweden for over four decades.

The first wolves were shot in the western provinces of Varmland and Dalarna, media reported.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in December announced the quota of 27 wolves, slightly more than 10 percent of the Scandinavian wolf population.

The licensed hunting period ends Feb 15. Controlled hunting of wolves has been allowed previously, including that of animals that attack livestock.

Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren has said the current wolf population, consisting of some 220 animals, needs to be renewed, noting that genetic defects like heart and kidney problems threaten the long-term viability of the wolf population.

Scandinavia's current wolf population traces its origins to three wolves that migrated from Finland and Russia in the 1980s and 1990s, replenishing a population that had declined precipitously. The population suffers from inbreeding.

The Swedish parliament last year approved licensed hunting of wolves as part of the government's programme to manage large carnivores. (dpa)