Hunting wolves in Finland might break new records in the future. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry strongly supports the idea to continue licensed wolf hunting as a form of population management.
The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Kimmo Tiilikainen (center) said earlier last month that the management experiment must be continued. The Ministerial Adviser at Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Sami Niemi agrees with Tiilikainen. He states that the results of the two-year experiment will be analyzed before the final decision is presented to the minister. The solution is expected in October.
The licensed hunt of wolves was a two-year experiment based on the management plan of the Finnish wolf. The purpose is to reduce poaching and moderate wolf packs by killing individuals in a controlled manner. According to Niemi, the licensed wolf hunting has been successful in Finland. The amount of angry contacts about the damages caused by wolves has decreased.
The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is updating the estimate on how many wolf packs exist in Finland. After it’s completed, there will be an examination on how licensed hunting has effected the Finnish wolf population.
– There’s a good chance hunting will be continued if the wolf population has coped with the harvest. If the population has significantly decreased, resuming the hunt will have to be critically evaluated, Niemi defines.
A record breaking amount of wolves
Unprecedentedly many wolves were killed in Finland during the last hunting season. Altogether, 78 wolves died and almost all of them were killed with hunting licenses or police orders. That means almost one third of the whole Finnish wolf population. According to Luke, there were 200-235 wolves in Finland after the hunting season in late February.
Police gave orders to kill 15 wolves, which is remarkably more than before. Nowadays the police can interfere more rapidly if wolves appear on human settlements.
Professor Ilpo Kojola from Luke finds it possible in theory that the wolf population has not decreased since the last hunting season, even if the amount of killed wolves was higher than expected. The number of adult individuals among hunted wolves is exceptionally high, which could have scattered the packs and forced young wolves near human settlements more than usual.
– It is possible that this has effected the wolf population more than average.
“There are pack leaders among killed wolves”
Nature- and animal organizations criticize licensed wolf hunting. Nature –League and Oikeutta eläimille left an appeal to the EU Commission earlier this year. The hunting experiment was supposed to target young, damage causing individuals to preserve sustainability of the pack but a lot of adult, breeding individuals have been killed instead.
– During the last hunting season a lot of bad mistakes occurred. Pack leaders were killed and hunting was targeted towards non-damage causing packs, states Sami Säynevirta, the Head of the Organization of Nature-League.
He claims that instead of hunting, more factual information and damage preventing methods should be offered. For example livestock can be protected with electric fences.
Original article: Turun Sanomat 3.10.2016