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Police investigate suspected wolf attack in western Finland

A man walking his dog near Lauhanvuori national park was bitten on the hand after encountering an animal in the forest on Saturday night.

Wolves are known to roam in the area, according to a local hunting club. Image: Harri Alanne / Yle

Police in Southern Ostrobothnia are investigating a report that a person walking a dog near Lauhanvuori national park was bitten on the hand by a wolf on Saturday night.

"This matter was reported to the police over the weekend," Ostrobothnian Police Department's Communications Manager Mikael Appel confirmed to Yle.

The report to police detailed how the owner and dog were walking in the area when the dog became agitated - growling and trying to free itself from the leash. The owner spotted the figure of an animal just in front of them, and the animal then attacked the man, who lifted up his hand in order to defend himself.

He received a minor injury as a result of the incident, police said, and was able to make his own way home before filing a report.

Police began conducting an investigation into the incident at the scene on Sunday alongside representatives from the Finnish Wildlife Agency, but no traces of a wolf were found during the initial stages of the probe.

According to police, investigation of the site was hampered by overnight rain as well as by the movement of hunters in the same area on Sunday morning, but the investigation is ongoing and no further information will be provided at this stage.

Jarkko Latvanen, chair of the Kauhajoki hunting group that operates in the area, told Yle that wolves are known to roam in the region and therefore incidents such as Saturday evening's suspected attack are "essentially possible".

A specialist project called Life BorealWolf (LifeSusi in Finnish) issued a warning to hunting groups and dog walkers earlier this year that the chances of hunting dogs encountering a wolf in Finland's forests this autumn have increased significantly compared to last year.

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