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Luke: Finland's wolf population growth stalling

There were about 290 wolves in Finland in March, almost the same number as last year, Finland's Natural Resources Institute (Luke) says.

Susi kuvattuna Ranuan eläinpuistossa.
The number of wolves in Finland is estimated to have remained almost unchanged between March 2021 and March 2022. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP
Yle News

The steady growth in Finland's wolf population over recent years has slowed during the past 12 months, according to a report by the Natural Resources Institute (Luke).

The institute estimated that there were between 279 and 321 wolves in Finland in March 2021, and subsequently revised this figure to 290 for March of this year.

This figure includes about 60 wolf territories — 41 in Western Finland and 19 in Eastern Finland — and is made up of 37 family packs and 23 wolf pairs. Compared to 2021, the number of wolf territories has increased in western Finland but decreased in the east of the country.

Last year the total number of territories nationwide was estimated by Luke to be between 54 and 59.

"Most of the new territories have been established in Western Finland, where the total number of pack and pair territories has increased by nine. By contrast, there are four fewer territories in Eastern Finland compared to the previous year," Luke Research Professor Ilpo Kojola told Yle, adding that the stagnation in population growth may be due to illegal culling in some areas.

Luke carried out the population estimate in March, before litters of pups are born in April-May. Image: Yle

Sami Niemi, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, agreed with Kojola's hunch, saying that there are no other likely explanations for the wolf population remaining the same as last year.

Luke's population assessment is carried out in March, when the numbers of wolves are at their lowest level before the birth of pups in April-May. Changes in the population after March are then estimated via the use of a probabilistic inference.

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