Grouse declines lead to strict hunting regulations in Arctic Norway

Willow grouse. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Willow grouse population in northernmost Norway is reduced to less than a quarter compared with two years ago.

Finnmarkseiendommen, the landowner which administrates 95 percent of the land and natural resources in Finnmark county, announces very strict regulations when the small game hunting season starts on September 10th.

Population of both willow grouse and mountain grouse is even lower than last year and way below the 2015 peak season, counting results show.

Finnmarkseiendommen (FeFo) estimates the population to be only four willow grouse per square kilometer. Last year it was six and in 2015 the population was 18 per square kilometer.

It is not at all been a good season, and the average number of chickens per couple is 1,8.

Consequently, FeFo recommends hunters to go for the larger flocks of birds.

«We ask hunters to try to save adult birds this autumn. Let single-bird and couples fly on, and concentrate on larger flocks,» says Einar J. Asbjørnsen with FeFo.

One or two per day

Each hunter can only shoot one willow grouse and one mountain grouse, or two mountain grouses per day. The strict regulations apply to entire Finnmark. Exceptions are only made for the Pasvik valley and Karasjok municipality. In the Pasvik valley, close to the border to Russia, only one grouse can be shot per day.

Finnmark is Norway’s largest county. With 48,000 km2, the county is larger than Denmark. The county is a popular destination for hunters also from other parts of Norway. Maybe not so this year. FeFo has decided to halve the number of hunters from other regions.

Good season two years ago

Looking back at the good 2015/2016 season in Finnmark; 51,000 grouse were shot, up 71 percent from the hunting year 2014/2015, Statistics Norway reported.

In Troms, Norway’s second northernmost county, the increase from the preceding hunting year was 22 percent, up to 46,000 grouse.

All other counties in Norway saw a decline. In total, 175,000 grouse were shot in the hunting year 2015/2016 making it the most important small game specie in Norway. Of these, 110,000 were willow grouse while 64,000 ptarmigan were shot.

Over the last 15 years, the number of grouse harvested in Norway has steadily gone down from half a million in 2000/2001.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit and Canadian government agree on Arctic conservation area, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finland raises bear hunting quotas, 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: Goose population shrinks in southern Alaska, but grows in Arctic, Alaska Dispatch News

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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