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May 15, 2018 10:08 updates instructions on how to confront large predators

Finns are confronting large predators in nature with increasing frequency., Finland's official large predator website, responded to the increased need for information and completely redesigned its pages. The pages now include instructions on what to do when confronting a large predator. The pages are produced by Metsähallitus, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Wildlife Agency, Natural Resources Institute Finland, and the Ministry of the Environment.

The populations of all four of Finland's large land-based predators have grown. Natural Resources Finland estimates that there are between 220 and 245 wolves, about 1,500 bears, about 2800 lynx, and 240 wolverines in Finland. The wolf population has increased by a third from last year. The lynx has been the greatest success story with a population that has tripled in 15 years.

"It was high time to update our official large predator website People constantly want more information about large predators", says Hannaleena Mäki-Petäys, special researcher at Metsähallitus and editor of the website.

The increased frequency of confrontations with large predators has led to keen interest among visitors to the website on how to handle such a situation. The key message on is that it is important to remain calm. Even if there is an urge to shout and run, it is best to remain silent and to keep movement to a minimum. It is wisest for people to back away quietly in the direction that they came from. At the same time you should converse calmly while observing the movements of the animal without staring directly into its eyes. The animal can see a direct stare as a threat. More detailed instructions for confrontations, as well as information on identification and reporting large predator sightings can be found on the new website.

"Interest toward large predators and confrontations with them can be seen here at the Visitor Centre Petola", says Senior Advisor Eeva Pulkkinen at Metsähallitus. Petola is a nature centre specialising in large predators in Kuhmo.

Information on the biology and populations of species as well as solutions for conflicts related to large predators is produced for the website by Natural Resources Institute Finland researchers. The website also has direct instructions on how to report large predator sightings. "Plenty of passion is related to population estimates. The estimates can be seen as too small or too large by different people. Some people also have emotional reactions to large predators", says Johanna Torkkel, Communications Director at Natural Resources Institute Finland.

One contentious issue is hunting. The content on the subject on the website is produced by the Finnish Wildlife Agency, which can grant special permits for the hunting of bears, lynx, and wolves, and coordinates the SRVA network of volunteer hunters who provide assistance to police in dealing with conflicts involving large predators. "In granting special permits, the same issue emerges that comes when making population estimates. Some think that too many permits are granted and others feel that there are too few. In any case we want to increase understanding on the behaviour of large predators and the population management aspects of hunting", says Klaus Ekman, Communications director of the Finnish Wildlife Agency.

Further information:
Communications Manager Aku Ahlholm, Metsähallitus, tel. +358 40 4814890
Communications Director Johanna Torkkel, Natural Resources Institute Finland, tel. +358 29 532 7333
Communications Director Klaus Ekman, Finnish Wildlife Agency, tel. +358 400 659 668

Information on large carnivores in Nordic countries

SKANDULV - wolf research in Scandinavia. SKANDULV is working on issues connected with wolf ecology and administration. The main questions concern wolf populations, movement patterns, genetics, ecosystem effects etc.