Large carnivores and us

Large carnivores have always interested humans. Their large size and noticeable presence have both caused concern and sparked our interest. They are social and warm-blooded mammals, just like us, if only a bit hairier. They compete for the same food sources as us and they can be a potential threat to humans. For these reasons we both love and hate large carnivores and like to assign mythical qualities to them. We tell fables about them, use them in our metaphors and name things, objects and even sports teams after them.

A wolverine stands in the lichen and looks towards the photographer. Wolverine, photo Kimmo Pöri

Most Finns know very little about our large carnivores

Many Finns get their information on large carnivores from the media, which often presents the animals in a distorted and sensationalist manner. If someone unexpectedly comes across a bear in the woods, the tabloids will paint a picture of dramatic, narrow escape from the bear's claws even though in reality both the human and the bear quickly scurried away in opposite directions. An animal that happens to cross someone's yard is reported as a troublemaking bear or wolf, even though the animal has no way of knowing that it is causing trouble. If anything, these animals are very wise specimens of their species as they know to look for food where it is most readily available.

Meeting a large carnivore

If you come across a large carnivore in the wild, the best thing to do is to keep calm. Retreating the same way you came is also often the wisest option. You shouldn't shout or turn your back on a large carnivore. Read instructions for encountering a large carnivore.

Large carnivores and society

Large carnivores elicit strong reactions from people. On the one hand they are feared and hated, and on the other there is a desire to protect them and they are viewed as symbols of the wilderness. In reality, most people know fairly little of our large carnivores. Read more about large carnivores and society.

Damages caused by large carnivores

Large carnivores cause different types of damage to reindeer herding, domestic animals, beekeeping and agriculture. Dogs are also lost to carnivores, mostly wolves, during hunting and some are also taken from people's yards. Read more about damages caused by large carnivores.

Large carnivore sightings

In Finland, the numbers and territories of large carnivores are monitored by a network of carnivore contact persons. If you see a large carnivore, its tracks or droppings or a carcass left behind by a large carnivore, you can ask the carnivore contact person of the local game management association to verify your sighting. If a large carnivore causes damage or harm near your home, or you get into a road accident with a large carnivore, call the emergency exchange (tel: 112) to notify the police. Read how to act when you make a sighting of a large carnivore.

Large carnivore authorities in Finland

Many different authorities, organisations and ordinary interested citizens participate in the conservation and management of large carnivore populations. Read more about the roles of authorities.

Meeting a large carnivore

If you come across a large carnivore in the wild, keep calm. You should not shout or turn your back on the animal.

Take part in game animal research!

Report a sighting

A large carnivore sighting can consist of seeing the animal itself, or spotting the tracks, droppings, carcasses, claw marks or other signs left behind by the carnivore somewhere in the wilds. By reporting your sighting you are taking part in game animal research. Every year tens of thousands of sig...