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Swedish wolves need more genetic diversity: study

A new report commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency says Sweden needs at least 300 wolves to maintain a healthy population.

But it also adds that new blood is needed for the pack.

Maria Hörnell Willebrand heads up the wildlife analysis department at the agency. She says the report was launched at the request of the government, which wanted to know what the minimum necessary population was to ensure the long-term health of the species and what the socio-economic consequences of having that population would be.

To find that out, the agency had two different teams of scientists -- one from the United States and the other from Sweden -- carry out their own investigations.

According to the agency's latest population census, there are some 400 wolves living in the center of the country. But they are in need of new bloodlines from other wolf packs found to the east in Finland and Russia.

"Today (the Swedish wolf population) looks OK. But we need to be sure that we have at least one immigrant every five years to have this low number of wolves and still have a favorable reference population," Willebrand tells Radio Sweden.

Currently, there is one male and female pair that wandered into Sweden from Finland during the winter of 2012.

Willebrand adds that she doesn't see Tuesday's report affecting the right for local county boards to set quotas for wolf hunts.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch News as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.