The grey wolf is a night-active animal, and the most typical way for it to find food is to hunt in packs for moose. A pack of wolves consists of a dominant male and a female (the so-called alpha pair) and their young offspring. However, most of the wolves in Finland live the life of a solitary wanderer, even though for them as well the ultimate goal must be finding a partner and a suitable habitat. The grey wolf preys also on rabbits and beavers, and it eats carrion too. The grey wolf breeds mostly in the eastern parts of Finland, as the wolves wander across the Russian border into the country. The grey wolf can be found throughout Finland nowadays. It lives wherever its main source of food, deer, lives. As a timid animal, the wolf appreciates wide, peaceful wilderness, but as humans spread deeper into the woods, the wolves have also had to adapt to the presence of man. Unfortunately, some individual young wolves have even learned to search for food in yards and pastures.
Grey wolves have been persecuted for the damages they cause to livestock and game animals, and only a few wolves existed in Finland in the 1920’s. Yet in the 1970’s bounty was paid for killing a wolf. In 1973 the grey wolf became a protected species outside reindeer husbandry districts, and the protective measures were gradually increased; nowadays the gamekeeping district may allow special permits for killing wolves in otherwise fully protected areas to minimize possible damages. In 2016 the estimate of wolf population was about 200–235 individuals in Finland. After the grey wolf became a protected species, the state compensated the damages caused by wolves. This has changed though, over the years. Earlier the reindeer herders were paid compensation for the reindeer the wolves killed. Nowadays, since 2009, the compensation is based on the counted calf-loss and the previous damages caused by wolves in the reindeer husbandry area in question. The reindeer herdsmen no longer need to bother finding carrion out in the nature.
ADAPTING TO THE WINTER
The grey wolf is active through the year. Thick fur coating keeps it warm, and eating carrion helps with the otherwise scarce nutrition in the winter. Travelling in deep snow the members of the pack step one after the other on the foot trace left by the former one. This method saves energy also.
CLASS: Mammalia - mammals
ORDER: Carnivora- carnivores
FAMILY: Canidae – Canines
SIZE: Weight: 20-55kg, stands at 70-80cm at the withers, male larger than female.
BREEDING: Heat: February-March, gestation period: 61-64 days and nights, offspring: 5-6 usually. Young one leaves its birth pack in 1-2 years. Females reach sexual maturity in 22 months, males usually later.
LIFESPAN: 12 -16 years.