lauantai 8. huhtikuuta 2017

What's happening on the wolf front in Finland

As spring time has come, were waiting to hear latest info on population estimates. Usually the estimates have come around February-March, but since DNA-studies have been taken in to use as an aid to give more accurate estimates, the announcement date has been pushed back to May-June.
So we still have to wait bit more to find out how wolf population has reacted to the managment hunts and the unforeseen death toll of 78 individuals in season 2015-2016.

While waiting the estimates to finish, there are few things happening that are worth mentioning.

First, a so-called "wolf-rebellion" has taken place, where a group of people are willing to pay "tail-money" to Russians, who kill wolves that live both sides of the border (since problematic animals can't be removed legally in Finland, the problem wolves can be dealt on the other side of the border in Russia, where hunting wolves is legal and wolves have had bounty on them before.
Reasons for this movement is aforementioned lack of legal options to remove problem individuals and packs but also a certain worry over the wild forest reindeer, which numbers in it's former core area has been dwindling due heavy predation.

Second form of rebellion is seen in several parts of Finland, where the volunteer hunters who have formed the Large Game executive assistance force, are ending their contracts with police, since wolves have become such a large threat to the dogs used to track injured large game animals (moose and large carnivores) that the owners do not want to take that risk during training or in actual search situation.

Then there is the ongoing dispute over purity of our wolves. Official records recognize only 3 individuals from the past which have been wolf-dog hybrids. Others consider that the change in appearance and behavior of wolves in the past decade or so is due dog genes contaminating our wolf population and some have gone as far as claiming the whole population being nothing but hybrid mutts.
There is an ongoing pro-grad study in University of Oulu, where a new method is being developed to help recognize hybrids more easily. This will also include making a family tree out all the existing samples from the past 150 years.
(Link to the researcher Jenni Harmoinen's profile page: http://www.oulu.fi/wildlifegenomics/node/34127)


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