A litter of wolf cubs have been caught on film in Raseborg, between Helsinki and Turku.
Four cubs were filmed by a game camera in late June near the border of Raseborg and Salo. Their parents are apparently Finland's southernmost breeding wolf pair in more than a century. The adults have been observed in the area for about a year, but no livestock damages have been reported.
The Finnish Hunters' Association notes that there is an abundant supply of deer and elk in the area, and large contiguous forest areas.
“This is typical behaviour for a wolf pair: they wander around for a couple of years before having cubs and settling down to live as a pack in a certain area,” says Teemu Simenius of the Finnish Hunters' Association.
He says that this is the furthest south wolves have been observed to breed in a century, although lone wolves have been sighted even further south, including on the Hanko and Porkkala peninsulas.
"Like a long-awaited child"
Ilpo Kuronen of Finnish Association for Nature Conservation is delighted by the news.
“It’s like in a human family when a long-awaited child is born. I hope that the litter flourishes and that southern Finland gets more wolves,” he told Yle.
He says that there is no need to shoot them, as they will learn to avoid humans in the south, the most heavily populated part of Finland – which has the EU’s lowest population density.
“When they run around near cars, they will certainly quickly learn to be wary of people,” Kuronen says.
Population up, but still historically low
In January, the Natural Resources Institute Finland estimated that there were between 220 and 245 wolves in Finland, up from 140-155 a year earlier. That is still below a population of about 250 in 2006.
The latest census showed three packs in south-western Finland, roughly between Rauma and Hämeenlinna. They included about half a dozen wolves each, around the same size as the Raseborg family group.