Finland’s bear population up 15 per cent in last year

Finland's bear population grew by 15 per cent in 2015. Ints Kalnins/REUTERS
Finland’s bear population grew by 15 per cent in 2015. Ints Kalnins/REUTERS
The population of Finland’s national animal, the brown bear, rose by 15 per cent in the last year, reports the Natural Resources Institute Finland. The areas experiencing the most growth were the eastern regions of Kainuu, North Karelia and North and South Savo.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) says the number of Eurasian brown bears in the country has grown by almost a sixth in the last year. According to Luke, there will be somewhere between 1,720 and 1,840 brown bears living in Finland by the onset of next autumn’s hunting season. One year ago, this number hovered between 1,450 and 1,590.

Populations had clearly increased in the eastern regions of Kainuu, North Karelia and North and South Savo, but were down in the areas surrounding the northwest coastal city of Oulu and the regions of Central Finland and North Häme. Changes were less noticeable in all other areas.

This year’s estimate is based on sightings reported by Finland’s active network of hunting associations. Bear observations increased by a tenth overall, but sightings of brown bear cubs were down by 11 per cent. Luke estimates that the change can be explained by changes in the quality and quantity of sightings, and not environmental or biological factors alone.

The bear hunting season in Finland traditionally begins in the late summer and lasts until the end of October. In the past few years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has granted 5-10 bear hunting licenses a year to about 400 bear hunters in the Kuhmo area at the south-eastern corner of the Kainuu region.

Several other avid hunters travel up from the south to hunt bears near the Russian border. Permission is granted to shoot about 100 bears every year.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Study shows polar bears relocating to icier Canadian Archipelago, Alaska Dispatch News

Finland: Finland’s bears are on the move, Yle News

Russia:  Russian oil company studies polar bears, Barents Observer

Sweden:  Petition to restrict brown bears in North Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Small grizzlies dominate bigger polar bears: study, Alaska Dispatch News

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