Monday, 28 September 2015

No fair game: Sweden's multiplying moose pit farmers against powerful hunting lobby

Sweden abounds in moose, cheering the country’s passionate hunters but not its agriculture and forestry sectors which say profits are being munched away

David Crouch in Orust

Monday 28 September 2015 07.15 BST

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.

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.

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