The Government Decree on compensation for damage caused by cervids (1162/2000) sets the bases for compensation to be paid for damage caused by wild forest reindeer. Damage to agriculture, road traffic, and forestry are subject to compensation, but damage caused, for instance, by trampling and by eating decorative lichen is not covered.
Wild forest reindeer use farmland as feeding grounds, which may result in damages through the eating of crops, digging, trampling, and to some extent also defecation. Feeding on fields does not automatically lead to damage, but in some cases may even improve crop yields. Research on crop damage in Suomenselkä (MTT, South Ostrobothnia Research Station), showed that grazing by wild forest reindeer does not cause a significant decrease in harvests.
The damage caused by wild forest reindeer to the forestry industry is on par with the effects of semi-domesticated reindeer. Wild forest reindeer may, for example, damage saplings when digging for lichen in winter, or rub their antlers on trees during the rutting season. Damage mainly affects individual trees, and restraining measures have not been needed.
Bulletins and warning signs provide information about areas where there is a high risk of traffic accidents involving wild forest reindeer. The number of collisions varies on an annual basis, and can be significant in high-risk areas. For example, in Kuhmo 37 accidents involving wild forest reindeer were recorded in 2001.
In future, the wild forest reindeer may cause harm to collectors of decorative lichen, if their distribution expands into the Lake Oulujärvi environment.
Wild forest reindeer
Latin name: Rangifer tarandus fennicus, a wild "cousin" of the reindeer
Range and numbers:
In Finland, 750 individuals in Kainuu and 1,450-1,500 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)