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Finland’s tiny wolf population is critically endangered. Poachers are further decimating wolf numbers.


Finland’s wolf population has collapsed.

The total number of wolves has fallen by more than a hundred compared with the peak years, and the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute’s (RKTL) fresh report with regard to the number of wolf packs and couples occupying the country does not show any signs of recovery.

The wolf population seems to have decreased even from the estimate from last year.

The estimate with regard to the autumn’s wolf territories is based on wildlife observations and a questionnaire sent to game management districts.

Researcher Samuli Heikkinen from RKTL emphasises that the figures will become more precise and complete with the coming of snow-cover. That is when the wolf counting will commence in earnest.

But the trend is heading downwards.

Whereas in 2005 there were an estimated 250 wolves in Finland, there were only 150-160 individuals left at the end of last year.

In the mid-1980s there were a minimum of 300 wolves in the country.

Based on the latest observations, there are 14 wolf packs in Finland, which translates to between 150 and 185 individuals.

“The number is more or less the same as last autumn, but if the cubs are included the population has decreased to some extent”, Heikkinen explains.

The packs are approximately in the same areas as before, but from some areas they have vanished.

For example the packs that used to reside south of the city of Oulu have disappeared, as has the pack that used to live in the northern part of Satakunta Province.

“Even from the eastern province of Kainuu, where wolves are more commonly found, one pack seems to have vanished”, Heikkinen says as he examines his map.

“The situation for the wolf is lamentable. The population has diminished dramatically from the peak years”, maintains Sami Niemi, a senior official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

When the management plan for the country’s wolf population was drawn up in 2005, the minimum number of packs for a sustainable situation was set at 25. At first the population did grow, and in 2007 as many as 37 packs were counted.

The latest population estimates show, however, that the management plan’s objectives have not been reached.

Presumably illegal hunting is to blame for the population collapse.

“The population was on the increase when the so-called population management shootings were commenced. The permissible hunting was dimensioned conservatively with respect to the growth rate of the wolf population. At the same time, however, the illegal hunting of wolves is suspected of having increased. Presumably, in some areas people’s tolerance limits were exceeded”, Niemi analyses.

Now the hunting of wolves has been curbed and permits are granted only in exceptional cases where the animals have caused extensive damage or where there is a so-called “troublemaker” individual in the area.

For the current hunting season 22 permits have been granted, primarily in the reindeer husbandry areas and in Eastern Finland.

Last year 37 permits were approved.!/note.php?note_id=116938581700497&id=113171248737451


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Finnish Large Carnivore Research Project


Photo: Courtesy Ilpo Kojola

Posted in: Finnish wolves

Tags: Finnish wolves critically endangered, wolf poaching, Finland

Published in: on January 24, 2011 at 2:48 am  Comments (15)  
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