The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry wants to add a number of species to hunters’ hit lists – including endangered and protected animals. The aim is to reduce the local population of lynx by 20 percent in an effort to ensure that hunters have sufficient game.
The Ministry believes that the local lynx population has grown too large and has decided to offer a record number of hunting permits for lynx – some 589, or 25 percent more than last year. This would reduce the current population by more than 20 percent.
“Lynx create many disruptions for hunters by killing small deer. This reduces the number of prey and makes hunting difficult. In some areas hunters have been forced to stop hunting deer,” explained Ministry adviser Sami Niemi.
However conservation organisations have condemned the Ministry’s decision, saying declaring “open season” on the lynx on such a wide scale would decimate the population.
“The Ministry simply wants to ensure that hunters have access to the same prey that the lynx hunt,” said Ilpo Kuronen of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation SLL.
Finland’s lynx population has nearly doubled in five years and according to the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute (RKTL) currently numbers more than 2,500 individuals over the age of one year.
Increase in ringed seal quota
The Ministry is also considering adding the Baltic ringed seal to the regular hunting list. Currently hunters who wish to target this animal must apply for a special permit.
However ministry officials are now proposing a tripling of the hunting quota for the endangered species. According to Niemi, the aim is to reduce the number of seals harmed by commercial fishing operations.
These goals ring hollow for conservationists, however. SLL’s Kuronen pointed out that the ringed seal population is not sufficiently strong to withstand the ravages of increased hunting quotas.
Other Baltic states have strictly prohibited the hunting of the ringed seal.
Special permits to hunt protected wolverines
Finland’s protected wolverines may also end up in hunters’ crosshairs if the Ministry has its way. Officials are drawing up a wolverine population management plan that may propose the granting of special permits to hunt the animal.
Bureaucrats say that wolverines have been making inroads into reindeer populations, amounting to more than 3.5 million euros in losses annually. Exposing the population to hunting would represent a major change, since the wolverine has been a protected animal for 30 years.