perjantai 11. marraskuuta 2016

Wolf quota to be set at 40 individuals outside reindeer herding area

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry proposes: Wolf quota to be set at 40 individuals outside reindeer herding area

Ministry is proposing a yearly quota of 40 individuals to be killed during 2016-2018 hunting years (2 year period). The amount will be put in to a new consideration in 2017.

The amount of killed wolves will include all known wolf mortality outside reindeer herding area.

The permits will be issued through derogation clauses b and c in Article 16 of Habitats Directive. ( (b) to prevent serious damage, in particular to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries and water and other types of property;
(c) in the interests of public health and public safety, or for other imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment;)

The given permits can be put to use immediately, giving more chances to regulate the hunting. (Since the permits won't be active all in the same time)
 When the permits are given gradually, it is also easier to keep track of hunted alpha females and effect the hunting has to the wolf population.

The decree will be given for 2 hunting years to ensure the Finnish Wildlife Agency has enough flexibility and interminably to issue the permits for  applications that fulfill the requirements.
The decree will be re-examined in the end of 2017.

According to the preliminary estimate made by Natural Resourses Institute, there are 23-28 wolf packs in Finland, out of which 9 are shared with Russia.
Last year the preliminary estimate gave 22-43 packs out of which 10 were shared with Russia

More detailed estimate will be given in December 2016, including more precise knowledge of amount of packs and a preliminary estimate of the amount of wolves.
The final estimate will be given in March 2017

torstai 10. marraskuuta 2016

Been a while....

It's been a while since I last wrote, mainly since there isn't much to report.

The final-final results of the management hunt from this spring came in few days ago.

So the amount of wolves killed in this management hunt was 43 individuals. Out of them 25 were males and 18 females.
Adult:sub-adult:pup ratio was 23:1:19.
Confirmed alphas included 3 males and 8 females.
Males without confirmation/knowledge of status: 9
Males non-alpha 2
Females non-alpha 1
Female/Male pup ratio 9:10
1 sub-adult male

Including the confirmed alphas from other removals, the complete toll of alphas killed between 1.August 2015-31.July 2016 was 13 alphas. During this period total of killed wolves was 73.

This amount was way larger than anticipated. 30 wolves died outside of the management hunt. At least 10 of them were killed in the reindeer herding area, some of them died in vehicle collisions, one was shot to safeguard one's life (a collared wandering male redirected his aggression towards a man after hunting dog escaped him to his owner and owners friend). Several were ordered by the police to be lethally removed after deterring didn't work (these instances happened in and close proximity of either settlements or urban areas.)

The hunting will however continue, although different, since the unexpected amount of killed wolves during a year period. Details of future hunting legislation is still being prepared, but already it has been confirmed that there'll be a yearly cap for wolves killed and the permit process will be lighter. One of the biggest problems of the test management hunt was the period of appeals. The permits had to be issued early, so that the hunt would be over before the breeding season. In future, it seems, the appeal period will not be used. (There was also a rush during the hunt, due fear of withdrawal of the permits by court of justice, which might be partially to blame for large amount of alphas felled during the hunt.)

The preliminary estimate of the wolf population shows decrease in number of packs, but since the observation period for this was only approx. 2 months long (1. August - around 15.October) and without any snow on the ground, it is highly uncertain. The amount of packs given in this preliminary estimate was 23-28. Last year the similar estimate was 22-43 packs. (Confirmed later to be 37-39 packs).
Information regarding whether there'll be a new, more certain estimate is contradicting, since the management plan states there'll be 2 estimates, one given in October-November containing amount of packs and a final estimate in February-March including amount of individuals.
But during the press conference it might have been said, that there will be a 3rd estimate, that will be given somewhere around November-December when snow cover reveals tracks made by packs and pairs. Unfortunately, the information regarding this is scarce and the Natural Resources Institute hasn't told anything in it's own web-page regarding this estimate. (only the press release was given through STT-news agency)

tiistai 16. elokuuta 2016

Interesting but not practical.

A new study made in Stockholm university and published in Nature suggests that Finland should have at least 800 and Sweden 1200 wolves to keep the whole Fennoscandian wolf population genetically viable in long term. Fennoscandian population includes subpopulations of Scandinavia, Finland, Russian Karelia and Kola peninsula.
Study does not seem to trust Russia's populations to be any help since Russia is not bound by any international laws of conservation thus requiring Finland and Sweden/Norway to have 2000 wolves or 500 breeding individuals between them. Unfortunately such amounts are not practical in any way. Both Finland and Sweden are having trouble with their less than 50 packs per country, amounts of 100 packs/pairs in Finland and 150 in Sweden are something that can not be realized, simply due demographics. Both Finland and Sweden are thoroughly inhabited outside the reindeer herding areas, leaving only fragmented areas for packs to live.

The fragmentation of areas.
Link to the study in Nature

sunnuntai 7. elokuuta 2016

Results of the 2nd test hunt.

The results of the second test hunt have arrived, meaning that we now know killed individuals ages and their status in the pack in addition to their sex.

The results go like this:

Out of 43 individuals, 9 were alphas, 15 other adults, 17 juveniles and two <1 year old.

-The sex ratio of alphas was 8 females and 1 male.
-The other adults had a reverse sex ratio, 14 males and one female.
-Out of the 17 juveniles 9 were males and 8 were females.
-The pups were one female and one male.

Below is a map of the hunting results including locations and dates.

Map



keskiviikko 23. maaliskuuta 2016

Wolf census

New census is out. According to it, after all human caused mortality (75 individuals) the wolf population of Finland is 200-235 wolves. This means that before hunting and all other human caused mortality, wolf population was at least 275-310 strong.

Number of packs is approx. 37-39 and 16 pairs. Out of these, 26-27 packs and 14 pairs live wholly inside Finland's borders. Half of the individuals that are part of these 10 bordering packs and pairs are counted in Finland's population. If the bordering packs and pairs would be counted completely in Finland's population, it would stand 230-270 strong.

According to preliminary results of the test hunt, 24 over 2-year old (adults) and 19 under 2 yr old wolves were taken. More precise information of the ages will be attained after Matson Institute in Montana has done their age estimates from teeth.


 The map of packs and pairs. Numbers inside the green and gray circles are amount of individuals in the pack
Hunted and otherwise removed or dead wolves.
Red dot signifies the management hunt and if there is a black dot inside of the red one, the individual was an alpha.
Green is wolves removed with exempt permit due amount of damage and threat individual has caused. Black dot means the individual was an alpha
Blue is wolves removed by the orders of the police and black dot means the individual was an alpha.
Green square indicates individuals killed by vehicle collisions
Blue squares are wolves that have died of other causes.
The single red triangle indicates an incident, where hunter had to kill a wolf trying to attack him.

sunnuntai 20. maaliskuuta 2016

Police: Killing of a nuisance wolf in Piikkiö has lead to threaths

Police: Killing of a nuisance wolf in Piikkiö has lead to threats

According to Police of Lounais-Suomi the removal of a nuisance wolf in Piikkiö in Saturday has heated the conversation in social media.

According to police all comments haven't been appropriate or based in facts. Sharpest comments in social media have even threatened hunters participating in the hunt.

Police says that the decision to remove the wolf was made by a ranking officer of the police force and a consultation was made with a liaison person of the game administration. The hunt was led by the police. The action was based upon a law. Addition to police, hunt was participated by Large Game Executive Assistance-persons, in direct order by police.

During the week there had been several sightings of the wolf in a populous area of Lieto. The individual had been wandering around during Saturday in yards of apartment buildings, jogging tracks and been as close as 5 meters from a person. During the daytime aforementioned area had lots of people moving around with children and pets.

The area in which the wolf was shot was limited by the police inside of roads 110, Helsinki motorway, and the population centers of Runko and Makarla. If the wolf would have left the area the hunt would have been stopped. The animal was circling around in the limited area during the whole 3 hour period the hunt took.

The natural behavior of a wild animal and thus well being is avoiding humans or his settlements. The police reminds that sedating, capturing, handling, banishing or relocating a large predator is always very difficult. Banishing has been tried in the Varsinais-Suomi region with little or not effect.

Preliminary exam by the veterinarian revealed that the individual was thin and seem to suffer from a mange and the risk of rabies must be taken in to account.  These things will be ascertained by the Evira.

A large predator or another wild animal that comes and stays in populated areas is always  causing safety risk of some level. Safety risk posed by predators in populated areas is a threat that falls under state's responsibilities.

Police has to make situation and value assessment in the field and their actions have to reflect the true nature of the situation and it can't cause more damage of threat than the situation at hand.

The police reminds in their bulletin that the decisions made by the police can be questioned, but it is inappropriate to defame or threaten people giving assistance to the police.

According to the police, in this situation safety and well being of humans was considered higher priority based on the behavior and the condition of the animal.

Translated from an article of Turun Sanomat by Niina Perkkiö

Original article in Finnish: http://www.ts.fi/uutiset/turun+seutu/855791/Poliisi+Hairikkosuden+kaato+Piikkiossa+johtanut+uhkailuihin

sunnuntai 7. helmikuuta 2016

News update

Hi all. I know I promised to talk about the wolf-dog hybridism in my next post, but it requires more research and time than I anticipated, so I'll just give you an update on some news on wolves here in Finland.

To this day, the 7th of February, 37 wolves have been shot during the trial management hunt.
Sex ratio is 22 males and 15 females. Shortest distance between a spot where wolf was shot and a residential house was approx. 150 meters ( 164 yards) and the longest distance was 8,6 km (5,3 miles)

43% of the wolves were shot less than 1 km ( 0,62 miles) from a residential house.

The amount of wolves killed by orders of the police is currently 8. Latest was from yesterday when a young male was shot after several visits to yards. This individual is probably injured since blood was discovered from the spot he had laid down. The number 7 was a alpha-female of Tolkkee pack. Police and hunters had tried to haze her away from yards for a full week before kill order was given since hazing did not work. She was alone, either driven away by younger members of the pack or in search for new mate since her mate was found dead in May. Cause of death was ruptured urinary bladder.

A pack of wolves has prowled inside a town of Mellilä in Loimaa munincipality, Varsinais-Suomi.
The pack has visited the town in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday. The local large carnivore liason person told that wolf tracks were found around a dog cage. There had been 2 sets of large and 4 sets of smaller prints on the snow. He said it was a shame that there we no feces in the area which would have given DNA to find out from which pack these animals were from. The nearby school has been informed of the wolves presence and school has informed the parents of the children living in the area. The liason person notes that this was not the first time wolves have been known to visit the town area. In the nearby rock crushing plant wolves were caught by surveillance cameras three weeks ago.
He continues that from towns of Oripäänkangas, Niinijoki and Vilvainen have constantly given reports of 1 or more wolves for at least 3 times a week.

lauantai 30. tammikuuta 2016

Depredations

First an update: In Friday evening 23 wolves had been killed. It might be that one of the wolves is actually a wolf-dog hybrid and since it was apparently pup from spring it means that his siblings and  one or both parents are hybrids too. Otherwise this individual looks like a wolf, but he has a white tip on his tail, like foxes and half of the nails in his forepaws are white and all nails in his hindpaws are white.

I'll concentrate to the hybrid dilemma in my next post.


The amount of depredations last year is larger than ever after the wolves were eradicated from Finland sometime in 1920's. In recent years depredations on cattle has increased tremendously. In years before tighter protections took place an attack towards cattle wasn't even a yearly event. Dogs were those who ended dead in the woods or in the yard.

Last year 154 sheep, 15 cows, 45 dogs and a pony were killed by wolves.

Number of attacks were as follows: Sheep 22 attacks, cows 10 attacks, 1 attack on pony and 45 attacks on dogs. 

Map of depredations

Unfortunately GoogleMaps doesn't have a sheep marker, so I had to settle to a cow in both sheep and cow depredations. If you want to see the map for yourself, here is the link: Susien uhrit
Lammas/uuhi/karitsa = Sheep/Ewe/Lamb
Lehmä/vasikka/hieho = Cow/calf/heifer
Koira/metsästyskoira = Dog/hunting dog
Poni = Pony


In previous years amount of depredations that were compensated by government were following:

2010:
Dogs 23, Sheep 18 (18+ animals), Cows 1 (1 animal), Horse 1 (1 animal)

2011: 
Dogs 27, Sheep 7 (22+ animals), Cows 4 (5 animals), Horse 0

2012:

Dogs 48, Sheep 6 (28+ animals), Cows 4 (10 animals), Horse 4 (4 animals)

2013:

Dogs 24, Sheep 13 ( 58+ animals), Cows 3 (5 animals), Horse 0

2014:

Dogs 34, Sheep 16 (68 animals), Cows 8 (11 animals), Horse 0



The huge increase in depredations is likely the reason why our Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry gave an decree to have quota of 46 wolves instead of 39 proposed to them. 


At the moment there is an police permit in Juuka to remove a wolf that has been frequently visiting yards in these past few days.

keskiviikko 27. tammikuuta 2016

Update and wolf's historical burden

Update on the wolf hunt: 19 wolves have been killed by 26th. Of these, unfortunately 2 were alphas. One female was shot accidentally since instructions said to target the smallest ones, who are pups. Unfortunately the alpha female was petite and with two large males, so as per instructed, hunter chose the smallest of the three that came to his sight. It was only after wolf was shot hunter discovered that the animal had been the alpha female, since collared wolves are given also ear tags. Her collar had dropped off in the summer so hunter was in belief that the individual he targeted was a pup.
Second alpha was a collared male, but since his coat covered the collar, hunter did not see this and thus chose it instead of waiting another one to target.
In Eno, a weakened wolf was also shot. This individual was emaciated, feeding itself from bird feeders in yards and was seen several times near a school. It was even in touching distance from a child walking a dog. Police decided to give permit to shoot this individual to end it's sufferings, since it was clear that it would not live much longer and would otherwise die of starvation.

Throughout the world wolves carry a historical burden of their ancestors. In Finland, wolves killed a large number of people between 1700-1881. After a series of child killings in Varsinais-Suomi area, a professional wolf hunters "lukashi" were called from Russia to help. After they had hunted few wolves the attacks towards people ended. So did wolves tale in Finland for a long time, since methods learned were taken in to action and wolves were eradicated from most of the country. Last wolves were killed somewhere around 1920s. By estimates using number of wolves killed annually, it is thought that during the killings there were 600-800 wolves in Finland.

In the following map, 171 adults and children that were killed by wolves are represented. Their names, ages and the day of death. These are taken from parish registers between 1700 and 1881.

Map of wolf killed humans 1700-1881
Map is courtesy of Kaj Granlund and most of the data is retrieved from parish registries by Jouko Teperi.

The last person to survive from wolf attack was  Ida Kustaantytär Laakso, who was attacked 22th of  October 1880. During this time she was 9 years. She was saved by her scarf and a neighbor who came to help and drove the wolf away with an axe. Ida suffered severe lacerations and bore scars rest of her live. She died in 1960 at the age of 88. 



maanantai 25. tammikuuta 2016

Update on the wolf hunt and about human settlements

On the official page which tracks the kills made during 2016 test hunt on wolves has currently 11 cases. According to the information I've gathered from news and social media, at least 3 more are killed that don't yet show on the official page. (If you are interested in following the page, here is the link: Saalisseuranta).
The page shows the exact location where wolf was killed. As one can see from the map or from these pictures below, the places are quite close to houses.

In this first picture, the distance to settlements and field on the left side of the map is approx 2,5 miles.

In this picture, which is from the Kainuu area, the site of the hunt is about 4,3 miles from closest human settlements. At the moment this is the farthest distance between settlements and hunt I was able to find out. (The closest houses are those two black squares above the text Kaksipirttinen, north-west from the hunting site.)


So to the second point in the headline: human settlements.

Our country is 130,128 sq miles in size. Little bit smaller than i.e. Montana. Population density is approximately 46 people per sq mile. Little bit more than in Maine or Oregon. What makes Finland bit quirky is how the land is populated. Instead of population clusters with few inhabitants in between and lots of wilderness for predators to roam, Finland is settled almost in every single nook and cranny one can find. This leaves little room for animals such as wolves to roam far from people. In the pic below you can see that Finland is quite thoroughly settled, only the northern most part, Lapland, is having more ideal conditions. Lapland however is dedicated to reindeer herding, so Lapland and some areas in Kainuu and Pohjois-Pohjanmaa regions are not suitable habitat for a wolf.


Due the fact that the reindeer herding area takes almost 30% of Finland, wolves must live in the more densely populated areas and thus they end up having troubles with humans.(Or humans having trouble with wolves, depending which way one wants to look at it).

Since Finland is settled in the way it is, wolves seem to get more easily habituated to humans than in i.e. USA. Here wolves can't really live their lives without encountering human presence. In the Varsinais-Suomi region there are 2 packs and 1 little bit norther in Satakunta region, wolves can't physically get further away from humans than 1,2 to 1,8 miles. These packs live right in the middle of humans and thus have thoroughly habituated. Whether or not hunting these individuals will de-habituate them or not will be seen in future.


sunnuntai 24. tammikuuta 2016

Of the current situation

Today, 24th of January 2016 a second day of two-year test hunt is over. So far information regarding the hunt is scarce, most likely due the fact that hunting parties aren't required to inform their success until the next business-day, so tomorrow the reports start coming in. Second reason could be, that recently there was a violent outburst toward a hunter who put down a wolf injured in a collision with a car. Hunter got his car's windshield smashed and threatening messages from angry wolf advocates. Hunters don't want to go thru the same and endanger their families so they don't want to be in public.

But back to the topic, the current wolf hunt.
In 2015 a new wolf management plan was approved and it's controversial 2 year hunting test began. The idea behind the hunt is to de-habituate wolves, thus leading lesser need for poaching and giving wolf a status of valuable game animal instead of vermin. Last year 24 permits were issued out of which 19 were able to be used due appeals stopping hunt in some areas. With these 19 permits, 17 individuals were taken. Out of these 17, one was alfa female, others young members or pups of the pack. Remainder of last year (hunt took place in early spring) the packs that lost a member that was from an earlier litter became shy of humans and stopped visiting yards. The packs that lost a pup born previous spring (less than 1 year old) did not change their behavior.

Now the second year of this test has started, with 46 permits and thus far none of the appeals made have stopped hunting. As far as I have gotten any intel, 2 wolves from 2 packs are killed and one injured. 

The hunting itself is tightly regulated. Only 50 men at a time are allowed to take part and each of them have to be reported to authorities before hunt can begin. During the hunt there is a hunting leader and two vice leaders to ensure safety and terms of the hunt are met. It's recommended that young, problem causing individuals are taken, but if a hunter does kill an alfa during a hunt, it's not considered breaking the rules.

In most cases there is one permit per pack, in some cases with big packs or special conditions, there are 2 permits/pack. In Kainuu region with most wolves per square mile (square km) in the country one pack has been given 3 permits. All of the packs given permits have reproduced successfully in 2015.

The last spring's estimate of approx. of 35 packs and 220-245 wolves. Before the hunt estimate on amount of packs was 34-38 packs. After the hunt is finished in 21st of February (or all permits are used) a new estimate will be made. Most likely the number will rise close or even over 300 individuals.



UPDATE: At least 4 confirmed kills. Two of these were from so called Köyliö pack that lives in one of the most densely populated areas. Other two were of a neighboring pack in Varsinais-Suomi and way norther from a pack of Haapajärvi-Kärsämäki area.