April 28 / National Mammal of Estonia - big and bad?
During the festive mess of Estonia’s Centennial it was suddenly realized that while we had chosen a national flower, bird, rock and fish we were still missing a national mammal.
Among other candidates the two favourites were the Hedgehog and the Wolf. Although it seemed that the small, spiny creature was doing well, the winner was the Wolf. On Monday evening’s event in the National Library, as well as in ETV’s programme “Osoon” the result of a cooperative effort between several organizations was ceremonially announced. Estonian people took to these elections with passion, even some manipulation with votes was recognized, so the questionnaire had to be closed before the due date.
Zoologist Aleksei Turovski emphasized that the Wolf is a superior species, who can literally run rings around most others. He also pointed out, that similar opinion is shared by many people throughout Nordic latitudes, both in Paleo and East Asian and North American regions.
Wolf, aka Grey Wolf, is common almost everywhere in Estonia, and hunting is used to regulate the number of this species. During the hunting season they are hunted mainly in the regions where attacks to domestic animals such as sheep and cattle has been recorded. Otherwise only seriously dangerous specimen may be hunted.
Damage caused by wolves is partly mitigated or reimbursed by the state. Hunting of bold animals helps to change the population and keep the species nervous of people. Wolves avoid large and dense forests and prefer semi-opened landscapes where it is easier to hunt. These areas in Estonia are mainly under agricultural usage, hence the Wolf has been repelled to shrub and bogs.
There have been occasional wolf sightings in Matsalu region, although the closest packs live out of the area, albeit not very far. Wolf in Estonia is a symbol of wild and untouched nature, while our bogs and other “abandoned” areas are called “wolf-landscapes”. While the Wolf has always been a direct competitor of man, it has had a deep impact on our culture and tradition.
The Wolf was the very first national symbol, directly connected with forest and being the top predator, he measures the health status of nature, reflecting our understanding of natural processes and balance.