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
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)