HISTORICALLY THE BEAR IS FOUND TO LIVE in the greater part of the Scandinavian peninsula. But, when the people living there, started to heard cattle and were granted the general right of hunting, the bear disappeared soon from the urbanized territories. Already at the end of the 17th century, the bear was extinct in Småland, Öster- and –Västergötland, Södermanland, Uppland, Dalsland, Västmanland and Närke.
During the 18th century the last bears were shot in Värmland, Dalarna and Västernorrland. The reduction was the effect of the extermination campaign, that was carried out against all predators. In the year 1864 a premium equal to the value of one cow was introduced for killing a bear. The value of the fur and the bear meat equalized about as much, in addition. For a crofter, the killing of a bear represented a smaller fortune. In the period 1856 – 1893, the Swedish State paid for 2 605 such killings.
The Royal Academy of Science (Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien) in 1905 expressed, that it was a case of honour for Sweden, to see to it, that the bear not became exterminated totally. Thereupon, the bear was placed under protection, but only in the National Parks. Shortly thereafter, the right of hunting bears on other property, without the permission of the owner, was abolished. 1927 it was decided, that all bears that were killed should fall to the State.
IN THE YEAR 1930 there were only about 130 bears alive in Sweden. They were found in isolated areas on Sånfjället in Härjedalen and in the mountainous areas of Västerbotten and Norrbotten. Though some (illegal) poaching took place and notwithstanding the right to kill a bear that (had) attacked cattle, the Swedish bear strain began to grow again. Already in 1942 there were an estimated 300 bears living in Sweden.
In the year 1981 then the hunting of bears became rigidly regulated with licenses to hunt and kill. It should also be mentioned, that, by applying genetic analysis (DNA) it was established that the Swedish bear strain consisted of two species, both having their origin in southern Europe. The two species had been living separately during thousands of years.
THE BEARS IN THE NORTHERN PART OF SWEDEN (Jämtland, Västerbotten and Norrbotten) have immigrated from the East and are related with the bears from Eastern Europe, Russia and Siberia. The bears that have spread in the Southern area (Dalarna, Hälsingland and Härjedalen) have immigrated from the South and are related to the bears in Southern Europe. That is (between the Pyrenees in France and the Cantabrian Mountains in Spain) where the brown bear originates from. It is assumed, that they have immigrated after the Ice Age, about 12 – 15 000 years ago. The bears in Northern Sweden were most probably already separated from the southern Europe tribe by another Ice Age, which took place about 500 000 years ago. Both types of bears copulate though successfully in both tribes. The far hiking males are found to be best in spreading their genes widely in both populations. The Nordic bears belong to the numerous strains of brown bears (over a 100 000 species) living today in tundra and taiga forest areas as far as the most eastern part of Siberia.