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FI: Wolf population growing especially in western Finland, 25% more packs than last year

Finland’s wolf population has expanded significantly since early 2019, especially in the west.

Researchers estimate that there were at least 216 wolves in Finland before this spring’s pups were born. Image: Juha Laaksonen / Yle

The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) estimates that there are 30 wolf packs in Finland, one quarter more than a year ago.

Luke researchers believe than 24 packs live full-time within the country’s borders, with the other half dozen moving back and forth between Finland and Russia.

There were likely 216-246 wolves in the country as of March this year, Luke said on Tuesday, noting that pups are generally born in April and May.

Many of these soon die of illnesses, but biologists have found that at 40 percent of pups make it through the next winter, a significantly higher survival rate than for other predators in Finland.

The March 2019 population was estimated at 185-205 animals, up from 165-190 a year before that.

“The number of packs has grown particularly in western Finland, where there are probably 18 packs. For instance in the Laitila-Mynämäki-Pöytyä area there were three large packs,” said Research Professor Ilpo Kojola of Luke.

Pairs turn into packs in spring

Most wolves in Finland live in pairs or packs. Luke defines a wolf pack as three or more wolves who generally travel together and share the same territory. There are also an estimated 17 pairs, two of which live along the border.

Altogether there were an estimated 43-49 territories around the country this past spring.

“A lot of pups were born in the spring of 2019, so some pairs turned into packs,” explains Kojola.

Between August 2019 and March 2020, official statistics list the deaths of 27 wolves. Of these 18 were shot with special permits issued by the Finnish Wildlife Agency due to damages and by police decisions. Little damage by wolves has been reported except in in the reindeer herding areas of northern Finland. The area had by far the largest number of recorded deaths, 16.

Four died in traffic and two others were otherwise found dead. Authorities believe that other deaths have occurred due to poaching, but no reliable data is available.

Sources Yle