Even moose come in second when hunters in North Karelia go on a bear hunt

Tue 15 May 2018 10:10:00 AM EEST

In parts of North Karelia bear hunting is more popular than moose hunting. Especially in Ilomantsi, Lieksa, and Nurmes bears are important big game. Bear hunting begins on August 20.

In parts of North Karelia bear hunting is more popular than elk hunting. Especially in Ilomantsi, Lieksa, and Nurmes bears are important big game. Bear hunting begins on August 20.

On August 20 many hunters will be feeling restless. While hunters of water fowl wait for the clock to strike noon for their hunting season to begin, many bear hunters will already have experienced their big moment. Bird hunting continues late into the autumn, while bear hunting often does not.

The bear quotas usually fill up quickly.

"A few years ago bear hunting permits were exhausted in Ilomantsi in just a day and a half", says Kalervo Timonen, Metsähallitus Game and Fisheries Management Planner for North Karelia and North Savo.

Ilomantsi is one of the municipalities in North Karelia where bears have been a more popular big game animal than elk for several autumns. The situation is often the reverse in other parts of Finland. For instance, no elk hunting permits were granted in Ilomantsi in the autumn of 2017. The same thing happened the previous year. A total of 22 bear permits were granted for the area.

In addition to Ilomantsi, bear hunts have taken the lead over elk hunting in Lieksa and Nurmes. In 2016 there were no elk hunts, but bears were hunted. In the autumn of 2017 there were elk hunts after a one-year gap.

In North Karelia bears are also hunted on state-owned land. Game and Fisheries Management Planner Kalervo Timonen says that about 20 percent of the surface area of the region is state-owned forest administered by Metsähallitus. North Karelia is divided into a total of ten permit areas for bear hunting, with state-owned land in all of them.

Bear hunting is based on knowledge of the species. Information and observations of the movements of animals have been collected since the spring, so their habitats are known in detail. Dogs start their work in the opening days of the hunt before the break of dawn. When the sun has risen the first bears are detected.
Cool weather without rain are welcome for bear hunters. On a hot day the odours of a bear dissipate quickly. In warm weather the dogs and hunters also grow tired more quickly.