3 November (BNS) – Latest data show that the population size of some wild animal species living in Estonian forests has risen more over the past decade than ever before during the time for which records exist, Eesti Päevaleht said.
Peep Mannil, head of the game census department at the Centre for Forest Protection and Silviculture of the Estonian Ministry of Environment, said that if the previous decade generally was characterised by a reduction in the numbers of hunting game then in the present decade a big rise has taken place.
The most numerous game species in Estonia is roe deer with an estimated population size of 100 000-200 000. The number of roe deer reached its peak a couple of years ago, and in recent years hunting has been intensified because of the damage that the animals inflict on young forest.
The numbers of moose also reached its peak in the years 2006 and 2007, when stepped-up hunting was started. In recent years the number of moose has been stable at around 11 000 animals.
The size of the wild boar population was estimated to have been 23 000 before the breeding season and the peak is still to be reached, according to researchers. During 2008 nearly 20 000 wild boars were shot in Estonia, more than in any other year before. According to Mannil the annual hunting limit for wild boar should be moved up by a further 5 000 to keep curbs on their number.
The number of brown bears stands at an all-time high of at least 700 and the range of the species in Estonia has expanded to the west and the south.
The numbers of red fox and raccoon dog have grown in recent years as a result of vaccination against rabies.
The wolf population of Estonia hit a low in the early 2000s when only seven litters were counted. Last fall the number of wolf litters counted already exceeded 30 and the number of wolves before the breeding season was estimated to have been 140.
There are also an estimated 800 units of lynx in Estonia, while the number of beavers is estimated to be 18 000, compared with 10 000 that would be the optimal number for Estonia according to scientists.