Over the last few years around 20 different bears have visited Lassi’s "studio".
First bears in spring
Since Lassi started observing bears in 1978, individuals have appeared at the earliest on 30 March and at the latest on 14 April. In April, there are only a few bears walking around in the snow-covered forest. Some new bears arrive in May. From the first week in April up to about 20 May the bears eat regularly at the bait. However, during their mating season, lasting until 15 or 20 June, they eat irregularly.
Usually, the mating period lasts from the end of May to 15 June, but Lassi has observed a mating as late as 5 July! During the mating period, with good luck there may be many male bears fighting in the ‘studio’ if there are female bears present, but with bad luck, there will be no bears at all.
Increased animal traffic at end of June
After the 20 June the bears are very hungry, so that up until the end of October there are bears around almost every night. This period is fascinating: on many nights a week we observe extraordinary interactions between bears and wolves. However, the antagonistic bear versus wolf behaviour starts as early as at the beginning of April.
Before the beginning of November bears go into hibernation for the winter. Very often in Kuhmo, as well as in other eastern areas, in October bears move to Russia, where they spend the whole winter in their lair. The bear is very skilled at digging his winter home.
Bear hunting and bear population
It is estimated that there are 1200-1500 brown bears in Finland. There may be many more but no-one can say exactly how many animals there are out in the wild. The eastern part of Finland south of the reindeer area is the best place to see bears. The bear hunting season is from 20 August until 31 October, but in some parts of Finland, as in Kuhmo, once the last bear hunting license has been used for a kill, the hunting season is over. In the past few years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has granted 5-10 bear hunting licenses a year for the Kuhmo area, where there are about 350-400 bear hunters. Many of the hunters come up from the south to hunt bears near the Russian border. In Finland there are about 100 bears shot by permit every year.