The Finnish wolf population was quite numerous up until the 1880s, after which it was almost hunted to extinction. In the last few decades the population has been on the rise once more and wolves have spread throughout the country. This change has affected the national discourse and brought to the fore conflicting views on the wolf, its necessity and harmfulness and the goals of wolf population management.
Negative attitudes toward the wolf stem from the harm it causes to reindeer herding, cattle farming and hunting dogs. The wolf moving closer to human settlement has also caused fear and feelings of insecurity in some people. On the other hand, a part of the population considers the wolf's behaviour to be natural and the problems minor. The reasons for the wolves' problematic behaviour are often found in the feeding of the animals and their protected status. As a result some wolves have grown accustomed to humans and no longer see humans as a threat. Diseases and genetic impurities in wolves and Finland's small moose populations are also thought to cause problematic behaviour.
The purpose of the new wolf population management plan is to act as a clear and tangible operations model to which the local people are ready to commit and which also ensures a viable wolf population. The plan's drafting process was made open and interactive so that as many Finnish citizens as possible could participate in preparing the actions and follow the progression of the drafting process.
The ways in which people could participate were numerous and included online discussions, surveys, workshops, seminars and local events all across Finland. The views of hundreds of municipalities, village communities, children and youth organisations, hunters, conservationists, animal farmers, nature enthusiasts and researchers were heard and considered. From their own experiences these people know how to best coexist with wolves.
The new wolf population management plan was approved on 22 January 2015 and its aim is to match the needs of wolf conservation to the needs of the people living in wolf territory. The new plan also includes wolf hunting as a tool of population management for the first time since 2007. Territory-based hunting aims to secure a favourable wolf population and facilitate the coexistence of wolves and humans. The hunting will begin as a two-year trial, during which its effects on the wolf pack's viability, the behaviour of the animals and people's attitudes are studied.
Wolf population management plan (in Finnish)
Read more about the preparation process of the new management plan (in Finnish)