Communication is key when updating the Management Plan for the Wolf Population
The steering group in charge of the project to update the Management Plan for the Wolf Population met on Friday 14 December to review the progress of the project. The steering group discussed the guidelines for the work currently being done to update the Management Plan. The group highlighted various important aspects, including communication, taking into account regional and national-level perspectives and preventing damage caused by wolves.
The steering group reviewed the matters discussed by the working group preparing the updated plan, such as damage by wolves to hunting dogs and domestic animals and how to prevent it, and the practices for granting derogations to hunt wolves. The group also discussed communication practices and the collaring of wolves.
Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Chair of the steering group, stressed the importance of active and informative communication.
“When it comes to mitigating conflicts related to wolves, communication plays an integral role. People have a lot of expectations and assumptions connected to conflict resolution, and these may not always be realistic. We have a lot of work to do spread fact-based information. One of the key questions concerning coexistence is how to communicate about the matter at the regional level and how to take into account the different ways in which wolves affect people,” Husu-Kallio commented.
Husu-Kallio highlighted the need for wolf population management to take into account both regional and national-level perspectives. Failing to take either perspective into consideration can easily exacerbate the conflict. Husu-Kallio recalled that operators at the regional level are most concerned with the local presence of wolves. At the national level, however, the matter must be dealt with as a whole, focusing on issues such as maintaining a viable wolf population. Communication plays an important role in reconciling these two perspectives.
Preventing damage and clarifying derogation processes are essential
In addition to communication, the steering group stressed the importance of damage prevention and the fact additional resources should be allocated for both. Especially when dealing with damage to hunting dogs and the impact on hunting with dogs, the steering group felt it was very important to seek out concrete solutions. Along with disseminating information, the technical development of protective vests should be a priority, as the steering group felt that new technology had a great deal to offer when it comes to the protection of hunting dogs. Another important measure is protecting livestock with large carnivore fences.
Similarly to the working group, the steering group felt that the derogation process should be explained more clearly to applicants and that the importance of the content of the application should be emphasised. The criteria are not, however, absolute, as applications are always evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
“The goal must be to clarify for applicants how the derogation consideration process progresses. The final decision on whether to grant a derogation always lies with the decision-makers,” Husu-Kallio said.
The steering group also discussed plans to collar wolves in western Finland. Collaring has been shown to provide important information on the movement of wolves. Although it is not possible to monitor all wolves, collaring also makes it easier to reduce the rate of damage. The steering group decided that collaring should be one of the themes dealt with by the working group.
The steering group praised the Natural Resources Institute Finland’s excellent model for predicting the development of the wolf population and stated that this data would play an important role in the decision to grant derogations.
Sami Niemi, Ministerial Advisor, p. 029 516 2391, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vesa Ruusila, Head of Unit for Game and Fisheries, p. 029 516 2051, email@example.com