The return of the wild forest reindeer to Suomenselkä at the end of the 1970s is a conservation success story. Ten wild forest reindeer, two males and eight females, were brought from Kuhmo by van to Kivijärvi and the border of Perho, where they were kept in captivity in order to accustomise them to the area. Some of the females were pregnant on arrival and gave birth to calves in captivity. As the number of wild forest reindeer increased, they began to be released into the environment. The released individuals felt at home in the nearby area, in the landscapes of Salamajärvi National Park.
The keeping of animals in captivity ended in 1984, after which there were about 40 wild forest reindeer in the Suomeselkä area. This was the beginning of a population that now numbers about a thousand.
Conservation of the wild forest reindeer could still be promoted through new reintroductions. The Finnish Wildlife Agency has begun to make preliminary surveys of local people's views, about areas offering the best habitat for wild forest reindeer. These areas are in the border regions of North Ostrobothnia and North Savo and of Satakunta and South Ostrobothnia, and in North Karelia.
Reintroduction is planned for the years 2014-2015, involving cooperation between Metsähallitus, the Finnish Wildlife Agency, and RKTL.
Wild forest reindeer
Latin name: Rangifer tarandus fennicus, a wild "cousin" of the reindeer
Range and numbers:
In Finland, 700 individuals in Kainuu and 1,250 in Suomenselkä
In Russian Karelia up to 2,400, with an estimated 1,500 in Arkhangelsk and 2,500 in Kom (the question of the taxonomic status of wild reindeer of Arkhangelsk province and Komi Republic is open and requires special research). See range map.
Conservation status in Finland: Near Threatened (NT)