Hunters in Hiiumaa unable to agree on wolf hunting quota
While wolves in Hiiumaa killed a total of 110 sheep last year, according to Environmental Board data they have killed just two sheep and two calves this year. Hunters on Estonia’s second-largest island worry, however, that a smaller than expected hunting quota this year will allow the local wolf population to grow out of control.
A total of eight wolves were hunted in Hiiumaa during the previous hunting season. The island’s hunters are sure that another eight to nine wolves remain on the island, reported ETV’s news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera.”
A roundtable discussion on hunting held at the Hiiu County Government reached the conclusion that the optimal number of wolves for the island is two to three. Thus hunters hoped to have been granted three wolf-hunting licenses during the first half of this year’s hunting season already.
"Game monitoring specialists have estimated the need to hunt one wolf," said hunter Arvi Toss. "By our estimates, this is insufficient for maintaining a situation in which the killing of domestic animals would remain at a normal level."
According to game monitoring specialists, however, it is currently not entirely clear how many wolves really remain on the island of Hiiumaa and they found that if the wolves haven’t done any damage, their population does not have to be limited to 2-3 specimens.
"Whether or not there are too many wolves depends on how great damages actually are," explained Peep Männil, senior specialist at the Environmental Board’s Wildlife Department. "If there are no damages, then more wolves can surely be tolerated in Hiiumaa, i.e. people’s tolerance is markedly higher."
One contributing factor in the decline in wolf killings of domestic animals, however, is likely the fact that a number of livestock farmers ceased operations. Yet others have had to invest thousands of euros into installing fences around their pastures. The keeping of sheepdogs is also not something which farmers can begin to do overnight — this takes years of dedicated preparations.
Hiiumaa farmers are worried that if the island’s wolf population remains unchecked, it can quickly multiply and Hiiu islanders may once again end up in a situation such as last year’s, in which over 100 sheep were killed.