Finland raises bear hunting quotas

Finland’s bear population has increased considerably over the past few years and now stands at just over 1,700 adults. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)
Finnish hunting clubs have received permits to hunt 255 bears during this year’s hunting season, which began on Sunday. This year officials have granted 72 more permits than in 2016 against the background of a flourishing bear population.

Estimates by the Natural Resources Institute of Finland, LUKE, indicate that the country’s bear population has increased considerably over the past few years and now stands at just over 1,700 adults. The agency says population growth has been especially brisk in the eastern part of the country.

Last year LUKE estimated the national population at 1720-1840 individuals, a rise of about 15 percent from the previous year.

This year, the Finnish Wildlife Agency granted hunting clubs 170 special licenses to control the bear population in various areas. In addition to those special permits, licensed hunters in reindeer husbandry areas are authorised to cull up to 85 bears, divided into 25 in the west and 60 in the east.

The number of permits granted grew particularly in northern Karelia, where authorities distributed 87 special permits for population control. Permit numbers also increased in southern and northern Savo.

Bears targeted in moose, deer and bee territory

The highest number of licenses was granted in areas where the bear population is flourishing most and where there is a need to cull the animal’s numbers.

The permits granted in eastern Finland have also taken the size of the local moose or elk population into account. In Kainuu, Central Finland and Ostrobothnia, special permits have mostly been distributed in areas rife with Finnish forest reindeer, the wild relatives of semi-domesticated reindeer.

This year, culling permits were also granted in areas where locals say bears have increasingly wreaked havoc on beehives.

Hunting for many species of ducks and waterfowl also began on Sunday. Game wardens are urging hunters to focus on mallards, goldeneyes and common teals, all of which are plentiful.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Arctic Hunting Now (VIDEO), Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Flash, bang – no more wolves at the door in Finland, Yle News

Iceland:  Feature Interview – Hunting culture under stress in Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Finnmark introduces strict regulations on grouse hunting, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  Are wolves from illegal Russian kennel in Finland?, Yle News

Sweden: More wolves can be culled after Supreme Court decision, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. House lifts restrictions on predator hunting in Alaska refuges, Alaska Public Radio Network

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