Shortly put, the wolf population is estimated to have been between 150 and180 individuals in March this year. This estimate is 25% lower than the estimate last year (2016)
There are 14 packs that are wholly or mostly in Finland. (We share a number of packs with our eastern neighbor, Russia). 7 packs move across the border and are labeled as bordering packs.
18 territory marking wolf pairs out of which 3 are living in the border area.
Also in three territories it was uncertain whether area has 2 or 3 wolves, thus uncertainty of pack status.
|The location of packs (green) border packs (grey), pairs (yellow) and the uncertain ones (orange)|
The reason why the estimate took so long to come out, was that Luke (Natural Resources Institute Finland) researchers were using DNA analysis this time to make better estimate. The collecting of scats and analyzing them took time.
The amount packs with GPS collared wolves in them is 6, the amount of individuals collared is 13.
Reasons for decline are multiple and uncertain. Partly due the DNA testing merging some border packs in one pack (previously thought to be 2 different packs) and loss of breeding individuals in the hunting year 2015-2016 when anthropomorphic mortality rose unexpectedly high ( 75 individuals in total out of which 13 were breeding individuals).
The anthropomorphic mortality in the hunting year 2016-2017 was 57 individuals, out of which 6 were breeding individuals (1 male, 5 females).
Out of these, amount of wolves killed with regular exempt permits (given to prevent more depredations) was 15, the management exempt permits 26, by the order of the police 7, traffic killed 7, 1 by poaching.
One wolf died due accident, rising the total known mortality to 58 individuals.
The amount of pairs in wolf population was high in March (52% of all territories) when it was just 35% in March 2016. This could mean that there are now several new packs in Finland, since around 60% of pairs succeed to breed in their first spring together. (If interested that would mean 10,8 more packs formed this year, rising the amount of packs to 24-27, when counting in the 3 uncertain packs).