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Round-the-clock 'bear cam 360' goes live in Finland

Join a virtual bear safari in the Finnish wilderness! By clicking on the video link, you can turn the camera view in any direction.

Karhuemo ja kolme poikasta metsässä, taustalla kaatunut ja kelottunut puu
A mother bear and cubs in Suomussalmi, close to the Russian border. Image: Birgitta Tarvainen

For the first time, you can watch a 360-degree live webcast that puts you in the middle of a community of wild bears.

The live stream from Eastern Finland - which lasts more than 48 hours - begins Wednesday 10 July, 6pm Finnish time (1500 UTC) and ends at noon on Saturday.

To access it, click on the YouTube link below. You can turn the view in any direction. Unless the curious bears damage the camera, the stream will continue through Saturday morning.

Pääset katsomaan karhukameraa tästä linkistä.

The location is Raate in the eastern municipality of Suomussalmi. It lies on the Russian border east of Oulu.

This is apparently the world's first-ever extended 360-degree broadcast of wild bears.

Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) estimates that there are just over 2,000 bears in the country, although a precise count is not possible as they wander back and forth across the Russian border. Traditionally they have been most common in eastern Finland, but also wander into central and even southern parts of the country.

How to spot 'Weightlifter' and 'Broken Finger'

The live stream is from a bear viewing site run by tourism entrepreneur Markku Matero, who leaves food for the bruins each evening.

He has given nicknames to bears that have frequented the area for a long time, such as Lerppahuuli ("Floppy Lip") for one female.

"She has a split lip from being in a fight at some point. She's had bad luck with her cubs, losing them to male bears for several years," Matero says.

A male bear may kill young cubs if they are the offspring of rivals. This summer Lerppahuuli has taken her two cubs somewhere else, apparently due to the arrival of a large male dubbed Painonostaja ("Weightlifter").

"He's an unbelievably large, wide male. He's a bit nasty and solitary. If there are others at the feeding place, he chases them off," says Matero. In general, the large males usually eat first, followed by the females and cubs..

Another easily recognisable bear that may be visible is Rikkosormi ("Broken Finger").

"It's a big black bear with a middle claw on one front paw that is oddly formed for some reason," he explains.

Matero takes food to the bears each evening shortly before 7pm. Activity around the webcam is most likely between this time and 6am.

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