Special animals and birds in Scandinavia



Badger (Meles meles; Dachs; blaireau; grävling):

For several decades the Swedish badger population has been slowly increasing both in density and in distribution. A conservative estimate based on known densities in three southerly areas, gives a spring population in the order of

250 000 to 300 000 animals. The spring population of adults times 1.25 gives a rough estimate of the autumn population.


Mortality causes include fighting among badgers, road accidents and hunting. The badger has no severe predators today. It is presumed that the populations are limited by food.


Hunting periods: There is an open season between August 1 - February 15 in the whole country.

Hunting techniques: Badgers are shot when put at bay by large hounds or after a den hunt using small dogs. Several other techniques occur, including trapping.




Brown Bear (Ursus arctos; Braun bär; ours brun; brunbjörn):

Originally brown bears lived in all parts of Scandinavia. In the late 19th century bears were severely persecuted and by 1920 only a few bears were left in central and northern Sweden.

    In 1913, the bear became protected on land belonging to the Crown, where most bears were found. This led to a slow increase and in 1943 bear hunting was allowed on Crown land again. National Surveys between 1940 and 1992 showed that the Swedish bear population was increasing. By 1992, 700-800 bears were estimated to roam the forests of central and northern Sweden.


Bears have no enemies besides man and other bears.


Hunting administrations: Since 1981 the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency sets the annual quotas for different counties. This is done after discussions with the Swedish Hunters' Association and county administrations.

    All hunters within areas with a set quota are allowed to shoot bears. When a bear is shot, the hunter has an obligation to immediately report it to the police or the county administration. As soon as the county's quota is filled, the season is closed in that particular county by widespread information in radio, TV and press.

Hunting periods: in the northern part of the bear range, bear hunting is allowed in September, whereas in southern areas the open season is September 1 - October 15.

Family groups, mainly females with young of the year or yearlings, are totally protected.

Hunting methods: Bears are hunted by stalking and still hunt. Most bears are, however, killed early in the season during chance encounters in connection with the moose hunt.

Bag statistics: In 1981, 36 licenses were issued and 16 bears shot. Since then, the number of licenses issued and the numbers of bears shot has gradually increased. During resent years, 40-50 bears have been shot each year.



Lynx (Felis lynx; Nordluchs; lynx; lodjur):

In the early 19th century the lynx was rather common in most parts of Sweden. A century later there was only a fraction left, probably as a result of hunting. Consequently the lynx was protected in 1927.

    After protection, lynx numbers increased and in 1943 hunting was allowed again. From the mid-70's lynx numbers decreased again all over the country and as a consequence the open season was shortened in 1983. In 1986, the lynx became protected over major parts of the country. In 1991 total protection was reintroduced.   

    Since 1987, 12 lynxes infected with sarcoptic mange have been found dead and two animals with feline parvovirus have also been recorded.

    The Swedish lynx population is today estimated to be more than 200 animals.


All hunters within areas with a set quota are allowed to shoot Lynx.




Moose (Alces alces; Elch; elan; älg):

The winter Population in Sweden consists of around 250 000 moose and increases by about 50% after calving.


No predators are important today in affecting the Swedish moose populations. The expanding bear population may locally affect moose populations.

    Moose are partially migratory in the northern two-thirds of the country.


Hunting administration: Main formal issues are handled by the county administrations, each supported by an advisory board. Much of the practical handling (quota recommendations, handling of moose statistics, information) is done by regional and local units of the Swedish Hunters' Association.

    Hunting periods: The frame for the hunting season is set by climatic factors and timing of the moose rut. In southern Sweden, the hunting period starts in the second week of October, i.e. after the main rut. In northern Sweden, there is also a hunting period in September, before the rut. The short open season for calves is usually five days and the longer season for licensed moose hunting is at least 70 days.

    Hunting techniques: There are many forms of moose hunting, most of which include a team of hunters. A most common form is the several hunters are posted at the edge of a beat and one or several hunters walk around within the beat, with or without dogs.

    Bag statistics: The number and category of shot moose must be reported to the county administration. This data in combination with data on moose abundance is estimated through ground observations by the hunters during the first week of the hunt or through aerial surveys.

    Habitat management: Improvement of the forage situation is done through special care in forest management. Field with crops for moose and artificial or improved natural, water-holes are also arranged. Salt blocks are put out in most hunting areas.


Moose and man: There are three main conflicts: accidents between moose and vehicles, damage to economically important trees, and damage to arable crops.





Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix; Birkhuhn; Tètras lyre; orre):

Black grouse is distributed throughout the boreal and sub arctic forests of northern Europe, with fringe populations in central Europe and on the British Isles. It is also found in central Asia.

    The total spring population size in Sweden is roughly 600 000 birds.


Hunting periods: In northern Sweden there is an open season for both males and females from August 25 to November 15 and in southern parts to September 30. A male-only season starts on November 16 (northern Sweden) or January 1 (southern Sweden). This male-only season ends on January 31.

    Hunting techniques: Black grouse are hunted with pointing dogs or dogs that locate grouse in trees and distract their attention by barking. It is also common to hunt grouse without a dog, especially in the wintertime when decoys sometimes are used.

    Bag statistics: The harvest rate has been estimated at between 5-10%. In some areas it may be as high as 30% in certain years.

    Habitat management: Habitat management has largely involved adjustments of traditional methods used by forestry.

    Reducing numbers of predators, such as foxes and pine martens, will increase breeding success and population densities of black grouse.



Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus; Auerhuhn; grand tétras; tjäder):

Hunting periods: Males and females can be hunted from August 25 to November 15 in most of Sweden, but in parts of south Sweden the hunting may only continue until September 30. In the north, there is a male-only season which extends until the end of January. In the south, there is a similar season only during the month of January.

    Hunting techniques: Capercaillie hunting has old traditions. The species is mainly hunted with baying or pointing dogs, when flushed without dogs, when it sits in the tree-tops during the winter, and more rarely during the autumn display or in shoots with drive game.

    Habitat management: The wetland in the forests is important for the capercaillie. It is most gratifying to note the increasing consideration being paid to these types of wetland by the forestry.

    Against the background of the earlier reports on predation, a decimation of, for example, fox and pine marten, implies a positive effect on the capercaillie population.



Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia; Haselhuhn; gelinotte des bois; järpe):

The Swedish population size has been estimated at about 150 000 pairs. The population is probably declining because of habitat destruction.

    The most important predators are goshawk and pine marten. Hazel grouse reproduction and numbers follow the 3-4 year small game cycle in most of northern and central Sweden.


Hunting periods: Hunting is allowed from August 25 to November 15 in northern and central Sweden. In southern Sweden, it is August 25 to September 30. The species is totally protected in the southernmost tip of the country, where it is rare.

    Hunting techniques: Hazel grouse are hunted mostly using a whistle that mimics its territorial song. Although this method is effective, it probably does not affect the population negatively, because mostly males are attracted and hazel grouse populations usually contain more males than females. Many hazel grouse also are shot incidentally during the hunting of other species.

    Habitat management: No efforts are made to manage forests for hazel grouse. Growing consideration for hazel grouse habitats is being shown by foresters.



Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus; Alpenschneehuhn; lagopéde des alpes; fjällripa):

The rock ptarmigan is circumpolar. The population in Sweden is estimated to be about 75 000 pairs, corresponding to an autumn population of about 350 000 birds.


Hunting periods: The hunting period lasts from August 25 to March 15 in the two northernmost counties and from August 25 to the end of February in other parts of the breeding range.

    Hunting techniques: Ptarmigans are hunted mainly during winter. Rifles are then used when skiing hunters stalk the ptarmigan. Snaring of ptarmigans is also practiced. Stalking or flushing without help of dogs is practised to some extent in autumn.

    Habitat management: The habitats, which are often difficult to reach, are not managed.



Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus; Moorschneehuhn; lagopéde des saules; dalripa):

The willow grouse is circumpolar. A subspecies, red grouse (L. l. scoticus), inhabits Britain and Ireland. The Swedish population is assumed to fluctuate around 200 000 pairs which corresponds to an autumn population widely varying around 900 000 birds.

    Population numbers fluctuate, often with peaks every 3-4 years, which tend to coincide with peaks in small rodent numbers.


Hunting periods: Within the whole breeding range the open season starts on August 25. Hunting is permitted until November 15, February 28(29) or March 15, the longer season being in western and northern parts of the range.

    Hunting techniques: Hunting with pointing dogs is a common hunting form mainly used in autumn. To some extent, birds are also flushed and shot without the help of dogs. During winter, willow grouse are stalked by skiing hunters or caught by snares.

    Habitat management: In contrast to Britain and Ireland, where habitat management is widely used, the Swedish willow grouse habitats are managed only locally. Burning of moorland and tree cutting for regeneration of winter food are sometimes practised.