Last year, hunters caught slightly less small game bag than in the previous year. In particular, the grouse bag was considerably smaller than the year before. The black grouse bag fell to almost half and the western capercaillie bag equalled only a third of that caught in the previous year.
Grouse numbers have been below the long-term average in recent years, and there were hunting restrictions. Many hunters have also deliberately reduced their hunting in order to promote game management. Last year’s catch was the smallest in at least 20 years.
Waterfowl catch also small
The waterfowl catch was smaller than the previous year’s; indeed, it was the smallest in 20 years, but the relative change was smaller than the change in the grouse catch. The mallard was clearly our most intensively hunted waterfowl. Teal was the second biggest waterfowl bag. Last year, the average mallard or teal bag was four birds per hunter with a mallard or teal bag.
Last year saw record numbers of raccoon dogs hunted
More small predators were hunted last year than in previous years. Non-native species such as raccoon dogs and American mink, in particular, were successfully hunted in large numbers. Only the wood pigeon catches were larger than those of raccoon dogs, with an estimated total over 200,000 animals being successfully hunted in each species. Raccoon dogs have entered Finland from Russia over the last few decades, but originate in Southeast Asia. The American mink originates in Northern America. It has escaped from mink farms and adjusted well to Finland’s natural environment. The same number of American mink and foxes, an estimated 50,000 animals, were successfully hunted last year.
Until the 1990s, mountain hare accounted for the most commonly hunted animal in Finland. By the turn of the millennium, its population had diminished rapidly and fewer were being killed. Last year’s haul was just a quarter of those caught during the peak years of the 1990s.
Fewer and fewer hunting-card-holders go hunting
Last year, around 200,000 hunters in total went hunting, which is around two thirds of those who paid the game management fee. Most of these hunted small game and just over 50% hunted deer. There has been a decline in the number of active hunters in the past five years.
Last year saw almost 3.5 million days of hunting. There was a slight decline in hunting with a weapon, but passive hunting devices were used on more hunting days in the previous year. This is partly because raccoon dogs and American mink are often caught with traps.