Racoon dogs in Finland

Racoon dogs in Finland

The raccoon dog is an alien species in the Finnish fauna. Originating from eastern Asia, it was introduced to the former Soviet Union between 1929 and 1955 as a fur animal and the first animals had been spotted in Finland in the 1930s. It expanded its distribution very fast and by now the raccoon dog is distributed over large parts of Europe. In Finland it has successfully populated the whole country south of the Artic circle. Based on yearly hunting bag, population size is estimated to be about 280 000 animals in late autumn (juveniles and adults) and around 65 000 animals in late winter (before the puppies are born). Raccoon dogs are believed to have a large impact on certain prey species such as waterfowl…

The Raccoon Dog

The raccoon dog’s colonization of Europe has been very rapid. In Finland, the growth rate of the population was highest in the south of the country, and the population reached its peak in the mid-1980’s, according to game enquiries. Thereafter, the numbers first declined slightly in some areas, but have since stabilized and seem now to vary in a density-dependent manner (Kauhala, 1992). The raccoon dog would thus seem to have reached the carrying capacity of the environment in Finland. The annual catch has increased sharply in Finland during the past two decades, reflecting the rapid increase in population density. Only 818 raccoon dogs were killed during the 1970-71 hunting season but 75,000 were killed twenty years later. Although the annual tally does not always give a true picture of population density, an increase of this magnitude certainly reflects the rapid increase in numbers.

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