International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems


During the nineteenth century, the large predators of Finland- wolf, bear, lynx, and wolverine- were exterminated in the southern and western regions of the country. There were almost no lynx by late 1950. However, a protection order issued in 1968 resulted in a steady increase in their number, to about 300 by 1980. A breeding wolverine population existed until the late 1960s. In the 1970s, most were killed by snowmobiles. It is now thought only 10-30 inhabit the frontiers between Finland and the USSR and Finland and Norway. Bears, in the 1970s, tended to immigrate to Finland from the east; currently, the population is about 300. Since 1980, the wolf population has expanded because of movements from the east. In Finland, their current total is about 100. However, movement from other countries cannot be used as a long-term solution to maintaining and increasing the number of large predators in Finland since predator populations in these countries cannot be expected to expand sufficiently to compel large-scale migrations. Instead, the maintenance of stable predator populations in Finland must depend on their adaptation to relatively settled areas and acceptance by local populations. The wolf and lynx have shown considerable adaptation; the wolverine and bear have not. Also, hostile attitudes toward predators like wolves, mainly based on fairy tales and overblown news items, must continue to change, and change rapidly, if these animals are to be preserved.

Included in

Biodiversity Commons