Animals


Tour One. The Environment.

Saving Animals in Finland

When asked what animals are native to Finland, most people first think of reindeer. Reindeer, known best as Santa Claus’s companions, have become important tourist attractions. No joke, reindeer are semi-domesticated animals herded in Lapland (the northern part of Finland).

Although Finland is known for its reindeer, the Finns didn’t choose the reindeer as their national animal. Instead, they chose the brown bear, or “karhu” (also known as “kontio,” “nalle” or “mesik√§mmen”) to symbolize Finland. Because of its size and strength, the bear also often represents Russia.

Finland is also home to 59 other mammals including the Bobcat and the Finnish Horse as well as 240 bird, 6 reptile, 5 frog and 60 fish species. Beyond that, counting becomes difficult because tens of thousands of species of butterflies, beetles and wasps also make Finland their home. Finland has no endemic species (animals that live only in Finland). It’s cool because many of the animals found in Finland are also common in Northern Canada.
In the past, people hunted and fished daily to ensure their own survival. Early Finns were active, precise hunters. On the American continent, only Native American hunters were as skilled as the Finns. But today, hunting is no more than a hobby in Finland.

As the forestry industry has grown and traditional agriculture has begun to disappear, Finland’s animal population is in danger. 50 species of bigger animals and 770 species of invertebrates in Finland are considered endangered. Birds are especially vulnerable. Even the Whooper Swan, the national bird of Finland, had to be saved from the brink of extinction. In nature, animals and plants live in a delicate balance. They form the earth’s ecosystems. Disruptions in ecosystems or extinctions of species may have unexpected and undesirable consequences

In Finland, the Nature Conservation Act protects all mammals, birds and some frogs and reptiles. Regulations also exist to promote animal welfare. As a member of the European Union, Finland shares in many animal protection measures. Worldwide, 160 countries including Finland and the United States work together to protect endangered species under CITES Convention, also known as the Washington Convention, since it was signed in Washington, DC in 1973.
Finns, like Americans, are animal lovers. Domestic cats and dogs are the most common pets in Finland. Few Finns have exotic pets like Iguanas or Parrots, which are more common in Central Europe and the United States.
Caring for your pet is part of caring for the natural world. Learn through your own pet to love, respect and protect living creatures.

You can join animal protection clubs and participate in their meetings and campaigns and avoid taking endangered animals as pets or domesticating wild animals.

QUIZ

  1. The national animal of Finland is
  • the lion
  • the reindeer
  • the bear
  • the bald eagle

2. Finnish hunters
– were considered losers
– never hunted bears
– are still a profession
were second to none

3. Industrial forestry

changes the natural environment
– helps birds to find nests
– has increased the amount of reindeer
– has driven insects to lakes

4. The Washington Convention

  • unites the European Union in preserving nature
  • unites 160 countries in preserving nature
  • was signed in Finland
  • led to signature of the Nature Convention Act