The wolf is a native species of Finland, but humans hunted it almost to extinction in the 1970’s. After it became a protected species, the Finnish wolf population has slowly grown since. Yet, at the same time poaching continued to be ever present. While trying to solve the poaching catastrophe, the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry permitted wolf culling in 2015 and 2016. The effects are simply disastrous for the wolves.
Between 2006-2010 people killed about 15 percent of the total wolf population in Finland every year. Most individuals died due to poaching. In 2014, just over 100 wolves continued to live in the country. To tackle poaching and to gain more social acceptance for wolves, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry allowed wolf culling in 2015 and 2016. Many nature conservation organisations opposed the decision without success.
The first culling season costed the lives of 17 wolves, including 3 alpha individuals. Killing alpha individuals weakens the wolf pack dramatically. Less effective group hunts increase the risk of packs falling apart. As a result, the wolves wander in search of a new place to start their own pack. Besides the 17 culled wolves, another 25 died in accidents and from derogation-based and police-controlled permits. In fact, these permits have been granted without a favourable conservation status for wolves in Finland.
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Allowing Culling Increases Poaching
More and more countries demand that the European Union changes the protected status of large carnivores. The Flora-Fauna Habitats directive and Bern Convention protects the bear, wolf and lynx currently. But growing populations of the large carnivores cause concern especially amongst livestock owners and hunters. A coordinated lobby continues to demand that the EU changes the protection, to allow ‘management’ of these species. Until now, the European Parliament has not changed their mind or the protected status. But what happens if it does?
Please also read: Wolf remains protected by EU Parliament
Picture by Grey-wolf-in-the-snow-©-Sergey-Gorshkov