Wolves on the prowl in North Finland

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Suspected wolf tracks in Maikkula, Oulu. (Niko Mannonen / Yle)
Suspected wolf tracks in Maikkula, Oulu. (Niko Mannonen / Yle)
Unusual tracks in the snow spotted around town are thought to belong to a cub that may have strayed from one of the two wolf packs currently circulating to the south of the region.

The prints were discovered in both the Maikkula area of the town and further along the Oulu river in Madekoski.

“From the pictures I have no reason to doubt that we’re talking about a wolf here,” said Samuli Heikkinen from the Game and Fisheries Research Institute (RKTL). “It could be a single cub, without a mate or fixed territory,” he said.

“Springtime brings an increase in this sort of individual wolf activity, as the young separate from the pack,” Heikkinen adds.

Wolves leave typical canine tracks, so experts are careful to point out that it can be difficult to distinguish lupine prints from those left by a large domestic dog.

The foreleg prints found in Oulu are around ten centimetres across, excluding the claws. The hind leg prints are a little smaller.

In soft snow, wolves spread their toes as widely as possible, which can also make their prints resemble those left by a lynx. Claw marks are not always visible in these snow conditions.

The RKTL says that there have been a number of individual wolf sightings recorded in recent years.

This year, wolf sightings have been made in the southern region of Oulu, with one pack known to be circulating in the Pulkkila-Pyhäntä-Kestilä area, and another between Haapajärvi and Kärsimäki.

According to the RKTL there are currently between 144 and 155 wolves in Finland, around two dozen more than this time one year ago.

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