Poaching has weakened Sweden's wolf population and may account for nearly half of all wolf deaths in the country, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Researchers believe that nearly two-thirds of all poaching kills in Sweden go undetected after a ten-year project to track wolves by scientists at the Grimso Wildlife Research Station revealed a discrepancy between expected and observed population numbers. "The poaching we see is the 'tip of the iceberg,'" said Conservation biologist Guillaume Chapron. Swedish wolf populations have been struggling since the 1970s, when wolves from Finland began occupying territory vacated by extinct Swedish wolves. Researchers think Sweden's wolf population would have grown to 1,000 by 2009 without poaching. Some 250 wolves, many of which are weak and ill from inbreeding, live in Sweden today. On Wednesday, Swedish officials canceled a government-sanctioned wolf hunt planned for winter amid criticism from the European Union.
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