In 2018, hunters caught more small game than in the previous few years, with a significant increase in the forest grouse bagged in particular. However, the waterfowl catch was slightly lower than in previous years.
There were approximately 202,000 active hunters in Finland last year, of whom around 80 per cent hunted small game and 60 per cent hunted moose and other Cervids.
– Approximately 125,000 small game hunters caught bag. In the present decade, around 75 per of small game hunters caught bag, although the proportion has dropped slightly in the last few years. The most exceptional year in this decade was 2017, when only two out of three small game hunters bagged game animal. The trend returned to normal in 2018, however, says research scientist Leena Forsman of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
Increase in forest grouse bag
The total forest grouse bag in 2018 was twice the size of the previous year. Both the forest grouse populations and number of birds bagged were unusually small in 2017.
– Wildlife triangle censuses carried out in the summer of 2018 showed increased bird populations, and a longer hunting season was allowed in many regions. These factors led to an increase in both the amount of forest grouse hunting and the birds bagged compared to the previous year. About half of last year’s hunters hunted forest grouse, according to senior scientist Jani Pellikka of Luke.
Smaller waterfowl catch
The waterfowl bagged has been in decline every year since 2013, and the 2018 bag was the smallest of the decade so far. The number of waterfowl hunters has also declined, having dropped by almost a third since the beginning of the decade.
– Last year, around 70,000 hunters hunted waterfowl. The mallard bag was the largest, followed by teal. The number of teal hunted was only about half that of mallard. The third most common waterfowl species bagged last year was goldeneye. The bags of these most common game species have fallen in just the past few years, according to Forsman.
Wood pigeon and raccoon dogs most-hunted game species
The small predator bag was slightly below that of the previous year. The largest bag of small predatory mammals was raccoon dogs, followed by mountain hares. Over the last three years, there has been a clear reduction in the bag of mountain hares. Around 30,000 hunters caught raccoon dogs last year, and roughly the same number caught mountain hares. The next largest catches were mink and fox, with about 20,000 of each species being bagged. The largest bag of all game species was ground pigeon, which were caught by almost 30,000 hunters.
Background to the statistics
Luke’s hunting statistics are based on a questionnaire sent by mail to hunters who paid the game management fee for the year. The statistics for 2018 were compiled from responses from 7,500 hunters. The questionnaire was sent in early 2019, and the response rate was about 50 per cent. The survey has been carried out in its current form annually since 1996. Information on the number of game bagged subject to a permit and the number subject to a notification requirement is provided by the Finnish Wildlife Agency.