Wolves in Finland

A total of 165 wolves in 29 packs were estimated to have territories exclusively in Finland between 2006 and 2007. In addition, 41 wolves shared 9 territories across the Finnish-Russian border. From here

Wolves in Finland

The Finnish wolf population was hunted down in the 1920’s. At the end of the year 2008 there were 215 – 241 wolves living in Finland. This population is a part of a large Russian wolf population. In the whole Russia there are about 30 000 wolves, but just across the border, in Karelia, only about 350 individuals.

The wolf population in Finland is still very small and wolf is classified as a very endangered species. This is why there is a need to increase the number of wolves under the control of administrative authorities.

In the year 2000 there were only about 100 wolves in Finland. At present in 2009 the number of them is about 250. The authorities have made a special management plan, which defines all the necessary measures to be taken in all wolf-related questions, including the expected increase of the Finnish wolf population.

The plan to increase the number of wolves and to expand their regional habitats has met a lot of resistance and caused various problems in the country. The public debate about these issues in the Finnish media has fiercely been going on year by year.

Reindeer husbandry covers about one third of the total area of the country. This large area, which is also the traditional habitat of the Finnish wolf population, includes all Lapland and some other northern parts of the country. Wolves are not accepted by reindeer-owners, because they cause considerable damage to the reindeer husbandry. Hunters also regard wolves as a threat, because every year wolves kill some 30 – 50 dogs during the elk-hunting season. Wolves also kill some other domestic animals in small amount every year (e.g. sheep). In some parts of the country worried parents have organized transportation to their children, because they fear the wolves may attack the children on their way to school. (The state is not obliged to offer free transportation to the school children, if the distance from home to school is less than 5 km).

The people wanting to protect our wolves continuously remind the public, that the animal is absolutely an endangered species and of no threat to human beings.

The majority of the Finnish wolf population lives in the wildernesses near the Russian border crossing it in both ways, mostly from Russia to Finland. In many ways this is a big problem. The authorities would like to see the wolf population to spread out to the whole country. At the moment this is not the case. This fact causes problems to the wolves. The people in the eastern part of Finland find the wolf population too large. However, when wolves try to spread out to other parts of the country, they are confronted with great fear and prejudice in their new habitats. Wolf seems to be an unwanted quest in the whole country.

Poaching is also a great threat to the Finnish wolf population. The authorities do not know the exact number of wolves killed by the poachers. Some cases are revealed every year. Wolves have full protection under the EU Habitats Directive. The only exception is an individual considered to be a serious danger to people or property, and even then the killing has to be supervised.

Finland and EU embroiled in ‘wolf wars’

A twenty-minute drive from Finland’s border with Russia and more than 600 kilometers, or 375 miles northeast of Helsinki, this is the front line of Finland’s wolf wars. European regulations have ordered the Finnish government to tighten laws on the hunting of wolves and other endangered predators. But that has meant an expanded population of wolves, lynxes, brown bears and wolverines whose attacks on reindeer now threaten the livelihoods of herders.

Finnish Large Carnivore Research Project : Wolf

Based on historical documents it has been estimated that at least 23,000 wolves were killed in Finland during the last 150 years. Organized drives started in the middle of the 19th century, and at the end of the century over 300 wolves were killed annually. The population was almost extirpated before the end of the 19th century, and by the turn of the century the wolf was present only in the eastern and northern parts of the country. Since the beginning of the 20th century the estimated average population size has been only several tens, and fluctuations in wolf numbers in Finland have mirrored fluctuations in neighbouring Russian Karelia until the late 1990s.

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