Wilderness supervision report 2023: Wilderness crime was on the rise

Last year, there were more instances of fishing without a permit and more use of illegal means of hunting large predators, reveals the wilderness supervision report published today by Metsähallitus. Wilderness supervision inspected nearly 7,000 people during the year. The inspections resulted in 520 measures: 57 cases were referred for pre-trial investigation and 463 resulted in more lenient measures.

Due to savings measures by Metsähallitus, last year saw a reduced amount of wilderness supervision. Despite this, more crimes and offences were discovered than in the previous year.

“This shows that there is a need for more wilderness supervision. It was surprising to find that people were fishing without a permit more often than before”, says Henri Pelkonen, Wilderness Supervision Manager at Metsähallitus.

Wilderness supervision inspected nearly 2,500 people out fishing. Of these, 58 were issued a fine because they did not have a fishing permit or had not paid the mandatory fisheries management fee. The number of fines doubled from the previous year.

Hunters tended to have the required permits, but wilderness supervision did reveal other cases that made the wilderness supervision manager concerned. "In three cases, people were hunting elk with a snowmobile in an illegal way. Some elk were also shot before the beginning of the hunting season and, in a few cases, outside the designated permit area”, Henri Pelkonen lists.

Wilderness supervision and other supervisory authorities discovered the largest set of hunting offences in the history of Finland; officials suspect that large predators have been killed illegally. The case is being investigated by the Police in Eastern Finland. In addition, supervision revealed two other suspected illegal killings and illegal bear hunting methods: two carcasses and one cage.

The Game and Fisheries Wardens also oversaw hiking in nature reserves. Once again, the most common issue concerned making fires: people started campfires in the wrong places or when a forest fire warning was in effect. People had also taken firewood from state-owned areas without permission, sometimes even for personal use from the firewood sheds at campfire sites.

Still, almost everyone out in nature tends to respect the rules. “In basic supervision, almost 100% of people who are hunting or fishing are totally compliant, but then sometimes we might uncover a larger operation involving several persons and different types of offences”, Henri Pelkonen says.

Further information

Metsähallitus is a state enterprise that manages one third of Finland's land and water areas. Metsähallitus aims to foster the value of nature and shared wealth in a responsible manner across generations. 1,200 Metsähallitus employees all over Finland are responsible for the sustainable use, management and protection of these land and water areas, reconciling different needs and expectations.

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