Brown bear (Ursus arctos)

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is the largest predator in Europe. It eats a mixed diet, uses carcasses for food and preys on large deer animals. When snow is on the ground, the bear is in hibernation. The brown bear is Finland's national animal. For ancient Finns the bear was a feared yet revered and respected animal.

The importance of the bear in the minds of ancient Finns is demonstrated by the fact that there are over 200 different names for the bear in our language. All modern Finns are familiar with names such as nalle, otso and mesikämmen, but fewer are aware that common words such as mettä, metsä, otava and mörkö are also ancient synonyms for bear.

Learn about large carnivores in Finland at

Wed 22 Jun 2016 10:00:00 AM EEST

Finland has long experience in conserving large carnivores and managing their populations, and indeed there is wide interest abroad in the Finnish policy on large carnivores. This is why the Finnish website is now also available in English at This allows us to give information and take part in the exchange of information and views on large carnivores across Europe. website offers a lot of information on the four large carnivores in Finland: wolf, bear, lynx and wolverine. Besides the highly popular details on the species and their tracks there is information on the conservation and management of large carnivores and their position in society.

“We wish to tell about the varying interests relating to large carnivores from the perspective of management, conservation or, for example, reindeer husbandry,” says Sami Niemi, Ministerial Adviser at the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The English language website is an information window on large carnivores in Finland for the international media, NGOs and all those interests in the matter.

The website is maintained by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Metsähallitus, the Finnish Wildlife Agency, the Natural Resources Institute Finland and the Ministry of the Environment.

Sami Niemi, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland, tel. +358 295 162 391,

The bear growl

Bear tracks

The bear has the largest tracks of all of Finland's native species. The paw print of a bear's hindpaw slightly resembles the footprint of a human. In summer the bear might leave behind a destroyed anthill or tree stump. The bear's winter den is very difficult to find.