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Wolf attacks on domestic animals can be prevented

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Publication date 2.11.2018 16.11 | Published in English on 21.8.2019 at 13.24
News item

In its meeting, the working group preparing the Management Plan for the Wolf Population discussed damage to domestic animals caused by wolves and how to prevent it. The majority of damage caused by wolves to domestic animals affects sheep and dogs.

When it comes to attacks on domestic animals, the working group emphasised the importance of foresight. Foresight plays a particularly important role when wolves migrate to new areas and when new wolf territories are being established. According to the working group, more resources should be allocated to protective measures so that farm owners can protect their livestock more effectively than before.

Grazing sheep are particularly common targets of large carnivore attacks. The most effective way to prevent harm is with electric fences, which prevent large carnivores from entering pasture areas. There are also other ways to prevent attacks from wolves, such as bringing sheep into a secure barn for the night. The Finnish Wildlife Agency offers guidance on protection methods, and their website provides instructions on how to protect production animals and apiaries and where to purchase supplies for a large carnivore fence. The working group will return to the subject of proactive protection and other means to reduce harm caused by wolves at a later phase of the management plan work.

Around EUR 190,000 paid in compensation for damage to domestic animals

Based on information from the Register of Game Animal Damages, over the course of the 2010s, wolves have caused the most damage to sheep and the second-most damage to dogs, when measured by the number of individuals harmed. The annual number of sheep harmed in the 2010s has varied from several dozen to around two hundred, and the number of dogs from around twenty to around fifty. However, the value of damage to be compensated is highest when it comes to dogs. According to damage calculations by the Finnish Agency for Rural Affairs, the damage caused by wolves to dogs in 2017 had a compensation value of around EUR 150,000, damage to sheep around EUR 37,000, damage to cattle around EUR 3,000 and damage to property just over EUR 2,000.

The large carnivore that caused the most damage to domestic animals was the bear, but the cause of the damage with the highest compensation value fluctuated between the wolf and the bear.
Damage by wolves to domestic animals occurs primarily between July and November. Damage to sheep occurs most commonly between July and September, while damage to dogs is most common between September and November.

The working group preparing the Management Plan for the Wolf Population met on Tuesday 30 October 2018. The next step in the work to update the Management Plan will be to deal with wolf sightings in the area around homes and the question of when a wolf can be considered to pose a threat based on the sighting and other information. The number of wolf track sightings is highest during snow cover. Sightings can be reported to the local carnivore contact person, who will confirm them in person. After dealing with sightings around homes, the working group will discuss derogations, followed by damage to reindeer.  

As part of the work to update the Management Plan, the working group will also look at other countries’ wolf population management plans and international publications on the subject.

Sami Niemi, neuvotteleva virkamies, p. 029 516 2391,
Jussi Laanikari, erityisasiantuntija, p. 0295162432
Vesa Ruusila, erätalousneuvos, p. 029 516 2051,