Hunters have actively supported game research and game management by tracking the population of wild forest reindeer. Before aerial counts, they perform terrain mapping, which is used to plan flight routes in advance. This saves on expensive flying hours.
Each year, in Suomenselkä, hunters collect hundreds or even thousands of observations of wild forest reindeer. When herds are spotted on fields and open bogs, the numbers of calves, females and males are counted. These figures can be used to monitor development of the age and gender distribution of the population. Information about the proportion of calves is especially important. If large predators begin to affect population size, the first signs are apparent in the number of calves.
Volunteering played a key role in the reintroduction of wild forest reindeer to Suomenselkä. Local hunting clubs and environmentalists were largely responsible for the feeding of captive reindeer.
Wild forest reindeer
Scientific name: Rangifer tarandus fennicus
Range and numbers:
In Finland, 800 individuals in Kainuu, 2000 individuals in Suomenselkä and about 20 individuals in Seitseminen and Lauhanvuori National Parks (reintroduced populations).
In Russian Karelia up to 2,400. See range map.
Conservation status in Finland (2019): Near Threatened (NT)