Wolverines in Finland

Wolverine in Finland

In Finland alone at least 6000 individuals have been killed during the last 150 years, and the population size reached a minimum of 50-80 animals just shortly before they became protected. To date, listed as “endangered” in the Finnish Red List, their numbers have slowly increased again to around 600 wolverines in the Fennoscandian region, of which only about 150 individuals are located in Finland. Due to its elusive nature, low density and large dispersal ability it is very difficult to study and important parameters for planning management actions, such as social organisation and dispersal behaviour are largely unknown.

Wolverine in Finland

Finnish – western Russian wolverine population: During the last decades, there has been an increase in population numbers and distribution of wolverines in Finland, but decreasing trends in Russia (Landa et al. 2000a). The western Russian population is estimated to be approximately 1,400 individuals (Novikov 2005). Relationships with other populations: to the west the distribution of the Finnish – Western Russian wolverine population is narrowly connected to the Scandinavian population along common borders with Norway and Sweden. An initial genetic analysis has indicated a clear genetic distinction between the Scandinavian population and the wolverines living in northern parts of Finland (Ø. Flagststad pers. comm.). It is also unclear how the western part of the wolverine distribution within this population (Finland, Kola, Karelia) connects along the narrow isthmus between the White Sea and Lake Onega in Western Russia. This area is judged as an extremely important connection for the northern element of the taiga fauna (Lindén et al. 2000) and these concerns should be further investigated. To the east, the European Russian wolverine population has a wide connection to the much larger East Russian population adjoining along the Urals in western Siberia. The Eastern Russian wolverine population is believed to comprise more than 18,000 individuals (Novikov 2005).

Finnish western wolverine population: This population was established by translocating animals from domestic reindeer herding areas in the north during the 1980s-1990s. The population is estimated to consist of about 10-15 individuals and now seems to reproduce naturally (Kojola 2005). The gap between this and the Karelia distribution is about 200-300 km and little is known about exchange between these populations. This population/occurrence should therefore be judged as isolated from other populations until further knowledge is gained.

Wolverines Feature @ National Geographic Magazine Enter the deep forests of Finland and meet the misunderstood wolverine: shy, playful, and opportunistic.

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