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Ducks protected from hunters in Finland, but jackdaws now fair game

Three species of duck will be shielded from hunting, while jackdaws have been taken off the protected list.

Punasotka ui vedessä.
The common pochard - no longer so common. Image: Antti J Lind

Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has banned the hunting of two types of diving duck for the next three years. Meanwhile another bird species is under the gun for the first time in a quarter-century.

Hunters will not be allowed to shoot red-breasted mergansers or common pochards due to low population numbers, the ministry said on Thursday.

Hunting of long-tailed ducks on inland waters will also be prohibited. In maritime districts, each hunter will be restricted to a maximum of five long-tailed ducks per day.

Wetlands disappear, birds suffer

Janne Pitkänen, a senior officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, says that the restrictions have been imposed because stocks of these waterfowl have declined. For instance the pochard population has dropped in recent years due to changes in its habitat, including wetlands drying up and other areas becoming overgrown.

Census figures indicate that Finland’s common pochard population has dropped by nearly 80 percent since the late 1990s.

Pitkänen stresses that the hunting ban is just the first step in stemming the decline in waterfowl stocks. Most important is restoring the wetlands that are essential for their nesting. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry promises to work together with the Environment Ministry toward this end.

“Action is needed both within and outside of conservation areas,” Pitkänen says.

Jackdaws in hunters’ sights

Meanwhile another bird species is under the gun for the first time in a quarter-century. Jackdaws lost their protected status on 1 August. However experts say that hunting these intelligent grey-headed crows won’t be easy, as they will quickly realise when they are in danger.

Story continues after photo

Pari naakkaa istuu sähkölinjalla.
Jackdaws are clever, social birds. Image: Anna Wikman / Yle

“I think it will be relatively challenging,” says Mikael Luoma, Ostrobothnia district game manager at the Finnish Wildlife Agency.

“The jackdaw will rapidly learn that it is being hunted. It will become more cautious, making it more difficult to hunt,” he predicts.

Damage to farms and smaller birds' nests

There are estimated 110,000 nesting pairs of jackdaws in Finland. They are most common in southern Finland as well as southern Ostrobothnia. There are large communities in Jalasjärvi, Kauhava and Seinäjoki, for instance.

“There are an estimated 10,000 jackdaws in central Seinäjoki,” Luoma says.

Authorities decided to revoke the species’ protected status due to significant population growth and increased damage attributed to the crows. This is mostly on farms, but the jackdaw is also known as a nest robber that destroys smaller birds’ nests. Luoma expects a lower jackdaw population to improve nesting conditions for other species.

Luoma points out that hunting of the birds is by permit only, and that they cannot be shot within 150 metres of any residence without specific permission from the landowner.

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