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Chainsaw thief - a wolverine with a taste for biofuel

Two chainsaws disappeared from a logging site in the rural Kumpu area of Joensuu. The thief, it turns out, was a wolverine that dragged them up to 400 metres away, chewed on their plastic parts and then cached its "prey".

Ahman syömä moottorisaha.JPG
Some plastic parts were chewed beyond repair. Image: Vesa Väänänen

Vesa Väänänen is an experienced woodsman and part of a fish and game association response team that helps police in tracking wild animals. In late March, he received a call with a request a little bit out of the ordinary.

"The team contact person called to say that two chainsaws had been stolen from a logging site and the thief needed to be caught. At first we thought that this is police business, but from the tracks it looked liked it was a four-legged robber," recounts Väänänen.

Väänänen joined a group investigating the site where the chainsaws had been left out overnight. No saws where to be seen. Instead, there were wolverine tracks.

"One fellow from a local hunting club followed the tracks and found one chainsaw 400 metres away. The other, heavier chainsaw was about 80 metres away. Both had met with the wolverine's teeth, all of the plastic parts were badly chewed up," he says. "One of them had been buried by the animal."

A taste for biofuel?

Väänänen suspects that somewhere along the line, the wolverine had had a taste of the rapeseed-based oil often used to lubricate the blades of chainsaws.

"Maybe it associated the scent of the chainsaws with biofuel. The ones it stole didn't have any biofuel, only regular oil. The thieving wolverine apparently got oil on its fur because it had rolled around in the snow an awful lot afterwards," chuckles Väänänen.

Ahma Ranuan eläinpuistossa.
Not guilty! This wolverine was photographed at the Ranua Wildlife Park in Finnish Lapland Image: YLE/ Marjukka Talvitie

Wolverines have been a protected species in Finland since 1982. Right now, there are only about 200 wolverines in the wild, but researchers say that they are making a comeback.

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