The exceptional pandemic years 2020–2021 seem to have permanently increased the popularity of hunting and fishing in state-owned wilderness areas. Last year, a total of 185,526 hunting and fishing permits were acquired from Metsähallitus. The number exceeds the previous year's permits by 6,000 and the pre-pandemic levels by 20,000. The demand for wilderness permits would be even higher at many sites, but hunting and fishing is restricted by quotas.
Approximately 85,000 hunting permits have been purchased annually for four consecutive years. The number of permits cannot increase much from this level, as Metsähallitus must secure sustainable game stock and the areas’ social sustainability by setting regional and site-specific quotas.
As for fishing permits, A total of 101,258 permits were acquired for state-owned waters, which is clearly more than in the previous year. The demand at several fishing sites is also higher than the allowed number of permits. In particular, the rapids in Southern and Central Finland and many rivers in Lapland are sites for which there are more interested users than there are permits.
However, both hunting and fishing permits are available throughout the season for sites that are not as popular with wilderness enthusiasts. Despite the fact that especially the grouse permits for the most desirable destinations are sold out, only about 80% of the quota for the whole country is sold annually.
"There would be room for hunting more small game other than grouse in state-owned areas. Hunters only applied for 22% of the available waterbird and hare permits sold in the last season," says Ahti Putaala, Lead Specialist for hunting.
Hunters interested in fowling
Hunters favour hunting for grouse birds in state-owned areas. Of all hunting permits acquired, 79% were grouse permits. The largest number of hunting permits were purchased for the Naruska-Tuntsa and Vintilä areas located in Savukoski and for the hunting areas of Yli-Ii and Puolanka. More than 1,500 hunting permits were sold for each of these areas.
The figures do not include elk hunting permits, as Metsähallitus assigns areas to elk hunting clubs instead of individual hunting permits. Last year, a total of 26,961 hunters hunted in state-owned areas as a part of a club. The popularity of elk hunting has decreased slightly in recent years, while the elk population has also decreased.
The majority of fishers favour rod fishing. Of last year’s fishing permits, 80% were angling permits. The popularity of trap permits has slowly declined year after year.
Hiking areas remain popular
The most sold fishing destinations last year were Ruunaa Rapids in Lieksa (4,400 permits), Hossa in Suomussalmi (4,300 permits) and Evo Niemisjärvi Lakes in Hämeenlinna (4,100 permits). Of these areas, Ruunaa and Niemisjärvi Lakes are located in state-owned hiking areas.
A joint permit site, i.e. a water area owned jointly by the state and private parties, constituted the Tornionjoki, Muonionjoki and Könkämäeno site, for which approximately 8,800 permits were obtained.
Hunters and fishers in state-owned areas provide significant additional income to the target regions. Last year, they purchased services worth EUR 51.8 million. The employment impact of hunters and fishers was 274 person-workyears. The impact was the greatest in Eastern and Northern Finland.
Hunting permits 2019–2023 *)
Fishing permits 2019–2023 *)
Source: Wildlife Service Finland of Metsähallitus
*) the figures are shown in number of permits, not in permit days.