UPDATE: Part II here.
Never mess with a Spirit Animal.
The wolf is a hunter; so are many Swedes.
And so is Anonymous.
For the second time in two years, a global group of hacktivists including significant support from Anonymous has come together to oppose the killing of Sweden’s wolf population, estimated at less than 250, down from 270 when Anonymous stepped in the first time. Born from the longstanding #OpVoiceless, an umbrella animal rights operation within Anonymous, the 2013 initiative #OpBeast took on a variety of animal abuse causes including Swedish wolf protection, ultimately birthing the anti-hunting #OpFunKill, which has been extremely active over the past few months.
In 2013 Forever_Way, a spokesperson for the operation spoke to me via IRC, saying, “Heard of Susi the wolf? Susi is a wolf that the Swedish government wants to kill to use her genetic material, same as 16 other wolves. There is a court ruling at the moment. We are also working on a magazine that wants to hunt Susi and and puts down the organizations that are pro-Susi.” Anonymous doxed the magazine’s publisher, enough to scare him, and a related petition to save Susi garnered 441 signatures. Susi was saved.
Now, as the Swedish government authorizes sport hunting licenses on the limited wolf population, and puts Susi under the supervision of her would-be hunters, #OpFunKill has pupped #SaveSweWolves, to protect the endangered population from elimination at the hands of sport hunters including the political elite. And as newborn operations go, she’s a beaut.
Different countries have different styles, in Anonymous and elsewhere, and as a longtime Anon-watcher I can honestly say that among Anonymous groups, the Swedish Anons are some of the most fearsome. Mess with them at your own peril. And the government of Sweden has. You know what they can expect, now that the killing has started.
On Friday, January 16, a press release and call to action was uploaded to Pastebin by an anonymous user, to 2700+ readers so far. It’s of the type they call “shots fired,” however [sic] those shots may be.
Swedish suprem Court had given a “Green light” to start
The slaughter of wolves. One wolf os already down.
Swedish Court has ignored the UN species and habitat directive.
Wolves are “redlisted” and Sweden do not care.
But we do, we Will be the vocie for the voiceless.
I call for all animal activist, hacktivists and the entire
Anonfamily to help us Spread the word.
The paste goes on to list the email address for Maria Falkevik, editor of Lansstyrelsen, and to point Anons to target websites: lanstyrelsen.se, a Swedish government site for information by county including hunting information, Naturskyddsverket.se, the Swedish Nature Conservancy site which was offline at press time, and regeringen.se, the Swedish government website. It then concludes with the traditional sign-off, with one scary addendum:
We are Anonymous
We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
~ #OpFunKill – Hunters Will be Hunted ~
A day later another paste emerged, this one specifically outlining an extraordinarily thorough Tweetstorm, commencing immediately (in fact, the hashtag had already spontaneously taken off, as you can see from the chart). One notes sniffily that Alexa Chung is on the media contact list for that tweetstorm, but the Cryptosphere is not. Hmmm.
Targets include not just those to be included in tweets via an @, but also websites to tangodown (ie DDoS, ie take offline through a flood of fake traffic) or pwn (ie to truly hack, get inside of, and mess with or leak), and government officials, judges, politicians, hunters, and royals to be placed in the crosshairs, either for emails and phonecalls or for unspecified other things.
We ask you to raise your voice by participating in this Tweetstorm and for those more inclined hitting designated targets. Let the Swedish Government know that the World will not stand back and watch endangered wolves being wiped out. That we, the people, will fight to save Sweden’s last remaining wolves.
Wolves in Sweden are facing the real possibility of becoming extinct. Thank you for fighting on their behalf. We will continue to fight until they roam free without threat as they were intended to…
That tweetstorm has been going ever since, only temporarily knocked off the top of the hashtags globally by the State of the Union speech and all its attendant political commentary. Prominent supporters include OpPinkPower, the global feminist activism movement, as well as celebrities like 90’s starlet Shannen Doherty.
A January 19 blog post by Trimada on AnonSweden.se called the hunt supporters out, in front of 3,000 daily readers:
Once again the Government of Sweden is ignoring EU laws & UN laws and has passed a bill to allow the
slaughter of endangered wolves even though there are less than 250 wolves fighting to stay alive in Sweden. This is nothing more than a genocide to please the many politicians and Swedish Royals that have
long hunted wolves as a sick ‘fun’ hobby. We ask you to raise your voice for the voiceless Save The Swedish Wolves!
Video of activists confronting the hunters was quickly edited together and posted on YouTube, where it has garnered 1700+ views since the 19th.
The hunters threat[en] them, blocked the activists road with car, photographed them, recorded them on video, registered their car plates.
They even tried to hit two activists by car … You have broken the red line … Expect us!
After this we started tracking you hunters who and what you are.
If the howls in the video didn’t do it, that warning should have sent chills down their spines.
That same day…
The Cryptosphere spoke to Carola Ankar, a longtime activist for Swedish wolves and vice president of the Wolf Association of Sweden, to get some perspective from someone on the scene. Literally on the scene; she’s been in sporadic contact with the internet while participating in the on-the-ground protests and observation, and she was almost in uncomfortably direct contact with her opponents when a car carrying hunt supporters appeared to swerve directly for the protesters, missing them at the last moment. That footage is in the video above.
The Cryptosphere: How did you get involved with opposing the wolf hunt? Tell us about the early days.
Carola Ankar: I got involved by starting Action Save The Wolves during the hunt of 16 wolves 3 years ago. When 3 were shot I went hours up north to one of the territories to act as a human shield, and that stalled the slaughter until organizations with the right to appeal in court could get [court orders against] the slaughter. We won. Thirteen wolves were saved.
What’s happened since then? And how did it all lead to this moment, with Sweden in the global spotlight? Bring us up to date.
From that first victory I stayed in constant correspondence with the former EU commissioner Jasnez Potocnik who asked me to keep him informed. The Wolf Association of Sweden asked if they could publish my letters and from there they asked me to join them. We have won [actions against] last year’s hunt in court as well as on 3 wolves about a month ago. SVpol [ie the Government] didn’t like it, so they broke the Aarhus Convention by withdrawing our rights to appeal to an independent court and just as we won the cases against EPA, they announced a new hunt now for 44 wolves to be slaughtered.
We don’t know how many are involved in this action at the moment and we know we had numerous activists out in 2 hunting territories, and we also know there have been a lot more in the other 4. Add to that and Anti-Poaching Unit APU is out, and Anonymous heroes have also moved in to save these animals, so its now a global matter.
We did try to save the genetically vital wolf Susi who became a living legend. She had several partners killed from helicopters [Sarah Palin is a supporter of helicopter wolf hunting] and she managed to escape as some sort of miracle every time. Last year the county board in that area who were supposed to keep track of her and her new partner left the area around Valentines Day and told the people who had applied to kill her to watch her.
After that the pair vanished into thin air and we are 99% certain they killed them both.
What does the hunt mean for the environment, for Sweden particularly and for the planet? And why has the World Wildlife Federation, whose job is to identify and protect at-risk flora and fauna, not stepped in?
Its vital for the entire ecology that we keep our fauna intact. Everything contributes to keep the planet going for future generations, except those humans who are set on destroying it all. Sweden is on the verge of killing the few wolves we have. We have less than 250 and the government lies in their statistics; we have proved that with recordings between myself and one of the people, Linn Svensson at SLU, who do the inventory report for the state. When Sweden gives statistics they do NOT exclude already dead wolves. What they do now is aim for as many Alpha females and males as they can to prevent the wolves from reproducing. The way they get around that legally is that county boards and EPA say avoid shooting the Alphas and then they add “aiming at any adults is legal.” That’s to cover their nasty agenda. Many in government both present and past are hunters, and the hunters’ lobby is extremely strong.
What kind of hacks, leaks, and other online actions have been happening?
I heard that the royal website went down. The king is a hunter and president of WWF Sweden, and said that he wants to hunt wolves. WWF sold out Susi the wolf in public. Tom Arnbom of the Swedish WWF stated publicly “If she causes any more damage she will have to be put down.” 4hey together with , more so called preservation organizations sat in a predator committee with hunters and the EPA after about a year ago, and they were mighty proud of that. That is the very committee whose results lead to the law change so that we cannot appeal to independent courts anymore and the state set a new record low for number of wolves we need, all of it leading to this bloodbath we now see. Afterwards, they went screaming they had been used, but they should have known beforehand that they were lapdancing with the enemy.
I also heard that highest security police had their heaters turned to very cold in their office, and that Ministry of Foreign Affairs are to “Expect us.” [confirmed]
Here is a link to the last I heard from the EU and the new commissioner Karmenu Vella. He sent someone to write me since he does not speak English.
Many in Anonymous closely identify with the wolf, both in the spiritual sense and in the mythological, symbolic sense. They see themselves as hunters, yes, but also as parts of a pack, a collective, each with his or her own special place in the group, and intense loyalty to their own pack or AnonFamily. Rejected and misunderstood by a society that condemns their natural and beneficial hunting, they find meaning in both their outlaw status and their acceptance within the group.
And right now, Sweden, they are very, very hungry.