The Wolf in Norway

Norwegian wolf

In Norway and Sweden, the wolf was functionally extinct in the 60s and only sporadic observations were made before two wolves migrated unexpectedly established themselves and bred in Southern Scandinavia during the early 80s - approximately 1000 kilometers from the nearest established wolf population to the East.

This wolf pair produced several litters together, but the wolf population did not increase by much until the another male wolf immigrated and established himself in 1991. As time passed, several migrating wolves have been registered, but few of them manage to establish themselves and contribute new blood to the wolf population. In 2021, a new immigrant wolf came and had a litter, and if one of the puppies manages to find a mate and breed, this will be considered the sixth established immigrant since the 80s.

The border between Norway and Sweden cuts through the wolf's core territory in Scandinavia, and we refer to these wolves as the Norwegian-Swedish wolf tribe. Even though this has been researched for 40 years, there are still many who question how the wolves got here, where they came from and whether the wolf is "purebred" or has a mixture of dogs. Does today's wolf tribe belong in Norway?

From 2019 - 2021, the NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet collected 1,814 samples from virtually the entire distribution area to the species Canislupis and performed complete genome sequencing of DNA on a total of 1,300 different samples. The sample material also includes dog, historical wolf samples and wolves from various zoos. This was done to find the genetic origin of the current wolf population in Norway and Sweden.

The results of the genome sequencing show us that today's Norwegian-Swedish wolf tribe originally comes from Finland. We also see that there is a lot of inbreeding in today's wolf population. It is also probable that none of the wolves in today's population have their origins in the historical Scandinavian population that existed until the 1960s. Today, we only find that relationship present in wolves that reside in zoos.

Today's wolf population also has no origin from zoos or from hybridization between wolf and dog. In fact, no other wolf in the world has less canine DNA in it than the Norwegian-Swedish wolf.