Some 200,000 hunters hunt every year in Finland, most of them focusing on small game. The number of hunters has remained roughly the same for the past three years, but the number of hunters of small game has somewhat reduced. The volume of small game has also decreased.
According to hunting statistics of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), as many waterfowl were hunted as the last year, but the number of caught rabbits, raccoon dogs and grouses, in particular, decreased.
Grouse population is low
The natural population changes of grouses can be very extensive. In the past few years, the populations have been smaller than average, which is why hunting has been restricted both regionally and temporally. In addition to the restrictions set by the authorities, hunting clubs and single hunters have regulated the number of caught grouses.
– The number of caught black grouses has decreased by two-thirds and the number of wood grouses (capercaillies) by half, says researcher Leena Forsman from Luke.
She continues that the average number of black grouses caught by one hunter has also decreased in the past few years.
– Many of the hunters who participated in the statistical survey stated that there is not much small game around, grouses in particular, which is why they did not hunt at all this year or reduced the number of animals caught. On the other hand, many of the hunters expected the grouse populations to start reviving in some areas, Forsman continues.
Few mountain hares caught
The number of mountain hares caught decreased from the statistics of 2016. According to Luke’s snow track calculation this year, there have not been so few mountain hare tracks in the past three decades. Some of the respondents to the statistical survey also mentioned regional hare population decreases and a reduction in the number of hares.
Mallards were caught in same way as previous year
– In the case of waterfowl with numerous populations, such as mallard, goldeneye and teal, the number of birds caught remained roughly the same as in the previous year. The populations of many rarer waterfowl have reduced to a level where a notification to the Finnish Wildlife Agency must be submitted for each caught bird as of 2020, so that an accurate idea of these species could be obtained, Forsman explains.
In the past few years, some 80,000 hunters have hunted waterfowl. Some 100,000 hunters hunted grouses a couple of years ago, but their number also dropped to 80,000 this year. In comparison, some 117,000 hunters participated in elk-hunting last year.
Background to the statistics
The Natural Resources Institute Finland prepares annual hunting statistics. Early this year, some 5,000 hunters who had paid the game management fee were sent a survey about their bag of small game and their hunting habits. A little less than 60% of them responded. The information on the number of animals subject to a licence is from the Finnish Wildlife Agency.