Finland strengthens wolf-related cooperation with Sweden and Norway

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 25.1.2019 14.47 | Published in English on 26.8.2019 at 10.51
News item

In its meeting, the working group preparing the Management Plan for the Wolf Population discussed the connection of the Finnish wolf population to the populations in Scandinavia. They also talked about wolf damage to reindeer and how to prevent it. The reindeer husbandry area is an important migration route for the Finnish and Scandinavian wolf populations.

In its meeting, the working group preparing the Management Plan for the Wolf Population discussed the connection of the Finnish wolf population to the populations in Scandinavia. They also talked about wolf damage to reindeer and how to prevent it. The reindeer husbandry area is an important migration route for the Finnish and Scandinavian wolf populations.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has strengthened its cooperation on wolf-related questions with the authorities in Sweden and Norway. The cooperation focuses on the genetic flow between the Scandinavian and Finnish-Russian wolf populations and the exchange of information on wolves. The Scandinavian wolf population comprises the Swedish and Norwegian populations, the genomes of which have been mapped in their entirely. The reindeer husbandry area is an important route for wolves to access the isolated Scandinavian population. The matter was discussed at the meeting of the working group preparing the Management Plan for the Wolf Population on Friday 18 January.

To maintain sufficient genetic diversity in the Scandinavian wolf population, a specimen from the Finnish-Russian population would have to migrate there at least once every five years and subsequently reproduce. Finland is doing its part to make this possible. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Naturvårdsverket, actively monitors the wolf population so that wolves from Finland or Russia can be identified as quickly as possible. The origin of wolves is verified by taking DNA samples.

So far, the known migrations of wolves from Finland to Norway or Sweden have taken place via the reindeer husbandry area. The most recent known newcomer, which also reproduced, arrived in 2016. At that time, a breeding pair of wolves was identified in Dalarna, Sweden, and the male was found to have come from the Finnish-Russian population. In spring 2017, a female wolf from the Finnish-Russian population that had been brought to Sweden by the Swedish authorities in 2013 gave birth to pups in Örebro county. In spring and summer, young wolves can migrate freely to Sweden through the Finnish reindeer husbandry area.

Migration also occurs in the opposite direction. According to research, around 10 per cent of the wolves found dead in the Finnish reindeer husbandry area are from the Scandinavian population.

Wolves and reindeer husbandry

The working group preparing the Management Plan also discussed wolves in the reindeer husbandry area, as well as wolf damage to reindeer and how to prevent it. The working group emphasised that the particular characteristics of reindeer husbandry pose a challenge for damage prevention, especially in natural pastures. That said, damage to reindeer can be mitigated through increased supervision and feeding of reindeer. The working group felt that damage prevention measures should be explored further, and that more resources should be allocated for reindeer supervision.

The group also stressed the importance of data on the locations of wolves and of the entries made by large carnivore contact persons concerning wolves and other large carnivores in the TASSU large carnivore sighting system (in finnish). The entries provide data on wolf movements more quickly, which enables a quicker reaction time.

Of all large carnivores, wolverines cause the most damage to reindeer. In 2017, lynx and bears caused slightly more damage to reindeer than wolves did. According to data from the Register of Game Damage, the value of reindeer damage cause by wolves in 2017 was approximately EUR 1.2 million, and the damage occurred primarily in the eastern and southeastern parts of the reindeer husbandry area. The proximity of wolf packs to the south of the reindeer husbandry area or near the border with Russia increases the likelihood of damage.

Derogations have been employed to limit the size of the wolf population in the reindeer husbandry area in order to minimise the rate of damage. The area is not home to any permanent wolf packs that produce offspring. Infographics on damage to reindeer caused by large carnivores are available on the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s website.

Animals and plants Large carnivores Wildlife and game