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.