Rewilding by Wolf Recolonisation, Consequences for Ungulate Populations and Game Hunting
Unit of Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Biology and Geology, Physics and Inorganic Chemistry, Rey Juan Carlos University, ESCET, Tulipán s/n, 28933 Madrid, Spain
Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-73993 Riddarhyttan, Sweden
Faculty of Applied Ecology, Agricultural Sciences and Biotechnology, Campus Evenstad, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, 2480 Koppang, Norway
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ettore Randi
Received: 8 December 2021
Revised: 10 February 2022
Accepted: 10 February 2022
Published: 16 February 2022
Humans extirpated the wolf Canis lupus from many regions of Europe. Today, the wolf is returning to many of these areas, and with it, people’s opposition due to its predatory habits on, among others, ungulate game species. Based on existing data on wolf prey selection, kill rates and territory size, we extrapolated the results from central Sweden and Poland to southern Sweden, where wolf recolonization has not yet occurred and conservation conflicts with hunters are expected. Thus, we calculated the proportion of moose Alces alces, roe deer Capreolus capreolus, red deer Cervus elaphus, fallow deer Dama dama and wild boar Sus scrofa that would be killed by wolves in the municipalities of southern Sweden if wolf recolonization occurs. We found that the current system of five ungulate species in southern Sweden could potentially support a wolf density two to four times higher than in the current wolf distribution in central Sweden, which are mainly inhabited by roe deer and moose. With this type of research, we can anticipate and work to ameliorate the social unrest and expected conservation conflicts that may arise once wolves or other large carnivore species recolonize areas of Europe that are returning to the wild.