Damages Caused by Carnivores

There have always been carnivores in the reindeer husbandry area. Wolverines, bears, wolves and golden eagles have taken their share of the reindeer. During the past few decades, also lynx has spread to North.

Lynx and wolverine are depended on reindeer in the reindeer husbandry area as there is not very much other natural food for them in the area. Also wolf and bear favour the easily available reindeer.

Reindeer killed and found by large carnivores in Finland 1991-2023.

The damage caused by large carnivores is a natural part of the reindeer husbandry. Reindeer herders protect large carnivores whilst feeding them with their own reindeer. The state compensates part of the killed reindeer for the herders. However, most of the financial burden is to be carried by the herder. In practise this means that the herders are the ones mostly financing the protection of large carnivores in Finland.

Reindeer killed by large carnivores in Finland 2000-2023.

Due to an efficient, long-term protection of the large carnivores, the populations have increased significantly. Hence the problems with large carnivores have grown. The situations with different predators differ a lot around the reindeer husbandry area, but it is clear that border areas are influenced most heavily. That is the borders between states as well as the reindeer husbandry area. There large carnivores move back and forth a lot. Also the terrain and different nature conservation areas have an influence in this issue.

The most significant influence on the situation comes from the national policies on large carnivores. It is based on EU legislation and other international agreements.

The researchers’ estimate that only around fifth of the reindeer killed by large carnivores are found. In other words, the total amount of damage is somewhere between 25 000 to 35 000 reindeer annually. Finding these carcasses is haphazard as the areas are broad and when there is no snow, there are virtually no traces to be seen. The damages caused by wolverine are the easiest to find as it hunts mainly during the winter. The damages caused by bear, however, are not really found as it hunts in the spring and eats mainly the new born calves.


Council Directive

Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.

EU Large Carnivores

EU Large Carnivores information

‘EU platform on coexistence between people and large carnivores