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"A touching, amazing moment": Wolf sighted in Helsinki and Espoo

Experts said it was likely a young lone wolf that strayed into an urban area while seeking a territory of its own.

Susi Ähtärin eläinpuistossa
Susi juoksi Helsingin Pajamäessä lauantaina. Kuva: Janne Salomeri

Helsinki Police said on Saturday that they had received reports of a possible wolf in Helsinki's western Pitäjänmäki district, near the Tali golf course, and in the nearby Pajamäki area (see video above).

Officials warned members of the public not to approach the animal, but to report sightings to the emergency phone number, 112.

According to police, the latest confirmed sighting of the wolf was at about 11 am in the Laajalahti area of eastern Espoo.

Detective Inspector Ilmari Hallamaa of the Western Uusimaa Police told the news agency STT late Saturday that no new findings had been made since then.

"It is probably in the woods, and when it gets dark, it will hopefully be able to move to a more forested area," he said. Police said they would try to continue to monitor the wolf's whereabouts and behaviour.

According to police, the wolf had not approached people or behaved aggressively or dangerously, so was not believed to pose a danger to humans.

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat obtained footage of an animal running through the Tali neighbourhood. Experts from the Natural Resources Institute (Luke) and the Helsinki Game Management Association confirmed to the paper that it was most likely a wolf.

Surprise during family stroll in Leppävaara

Satu Simola of Espoo was on a walk with her family in Leppävaara on Saturday, when a large canine ran by.

"My husband immediately said that it was a wolf," Simola said. "It was clearly larger, the head larger, a wolf-shaped tail, and the general appearance was rougher. It went straight in the direction of Villa Elfvik," an environmental education centre on Espoo's eastern shore.

Simola says her family spends a lot of time out in nature and realised how rare it is to see a wolf.

"It was a really touching, amazing moment. Seeing such a wild animal inside the Ring I beltway really made you rub your eyes. It was a rare situation that doesn't happen every day," Simola told Yle.

The family's three small children, who were with her at the time, were eager to discuss wolves afterwards.

"We've talked today about our relationship with wildlife and how even though the wolf may look nice, it is still an unpredictable wild animal that needs to be given its own space," Simola said.

"Young lone wolf, left by its mother"

Hallamaa told the tabloid Iltalehti that the wolf's behaviour did not seem to be threatening to humans.

"The wolf has not growled or shown its teeth. On the contrary, it has apparently tried to escape from humans with its tail between its legs," Hallamaa said.

According to Hallamaa, wolf sightings in settled areas of the Helsinki metropolitan region are rare. He said police had discussed the animal with game management officials.

"Their view, and my own view, is that this appears to be a young lone wolf that has probably been left by its mother. The wolf may have strayed into the urban area while seeking a territory of its own. Hopefully it has decided that its territory won't be in the metropolitan area," he added.

Last year the Natural Resources Institute estimated Finland's population at 216-246 individuals in about 30 packs. A pack's average territory was 800-1200 square kilometres.

The last known killing of a human by a wolf in Finland was in 1882.