Joint press release of the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the Finnish Wildlife Agency, the Eastern Finland Police Department, Metsähallitus and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
Coordinated by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), key objectives of the new project are to enhance acceptability of wolves in Finland and to mitigate conflicts related to wolves. The goal is to achieve the objectives by improving communication and determining concrete actions to reduce the damage caused by wolves, the fear of wolves and illegal killing of wolves.
− The work will start by means of cooperation between several parties and discussion to engage citizens. Interaction and dialogue are important, particularly in the case of people living in wolf areas, says Katja Holmala, a research manager at Luke.
Development of monitoring methods increases mutual trust
The project will do its part to stabilise the wolf population at a favourable protection level. This objective is in line with the population management plan of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. One indicator of a favourable protection level is the annual number of wolf litters.
“For a long time now, assessments of the wolf population have been based on observations and GPS telemetry tracking. Since 2015, collection and analysis of DNA samples has enabled more refined and transparent determination of wolf territory areas. This method will be used during the project to ensure that the collection of samples can cover most of the wolf territory areas while keeping the costs reasonable, and to ensure that the focus will lie on verifying the annual number of reproductions by means of DNA analyses,” explains Ilpo Kojola, a research professor at Luke.
Division of labour between the involved organisations and cooperation are based on a familiar division of responsibility
The project, called LIFE BorealWOLF, will start in October and take six years. It will be implemented by Luke in cooperation with the Finnish Wildlife Agency, the Eastern Finland Police Department, Metsähallitus and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation. The project will cover the whole of Finland, except for the reindeer husbandry region..
The Finnish Wildlife Agency will hire three regional planning officers who will communicate information on wolves and act as experts in the protection of dogs and other domestic animals. People can turn to them with any questions regarding wolves. The Finnish Wildlife Agency will also be in charge of the development of large carnivore contact person operations.
The police and Metsähallitus will focus mainly on communication and the prevention of illegal activity involving wolves.
Other cooperation partners include the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), the Regional Council of North Karelia, the Regional Council of Satakunta, the Regional Council of Southwest Finland and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. The project’s total costs will be EUR 5.5 million, and it will be funded by the European Union, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of the Environment and the implementing organisations.
The project coordinator will be Madeleine Nyman and the communications officer will be Iina Ala-Kurikka. Both will start in their positions at Luke in the beginning of October.