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Loaded for bear? Good luck getting a permit

Finland's bear population is now about one-fifth smaller than last year, game wardens estimate. As a result, the number of hunting permits issued for next season is being slashed by nearly half.

Karhu metsäaukiolla.
A bear spotted in Kuhmo, eastern Finland, last summer. Image: Kimmo Ohtonen / Yle

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has approved a quota of 136 bear permits for the 2012-2013 season, down from 263 last year. The new season starts at the beginning of August.

The ministry says that the bear population is back to 2009 levels. It says the new permits will be handed out more sparingly in order to ensure sustainable populations, and to encourage a more even distribution of the large mammals around the country.

The maximum number of culls permitted for next season is lower than the sustainable hunting target of 160 bears set by the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute.

More permits in centre and west, fewer in east

There are significant regional variations in the number of licenses to be issued. Fewer bears, just 60, may be shot in eastern Finland, near the Russian border, as population growth has been brought to a virtual standstill there.

Meanwhile more bruins are wandering the woods of Central Finland and Ostrobothnia, so more will come under hunters’ crosshairs this autumn.

In North Karelia, the number of permits has dropped from last year’s 90 to just 40, drawing the ire of local hunters.

The Game and Fisheries Research Institute estimates the nation’s ursine population at a minimum of 1330-1445 individuals, down from last year’s figure of 1660-1780.


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