Press release 18.01.2006
According to a survey conducted by the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla), the general public in Finland is of the opinion that the moose population should be reduced. A third of the respondents wished to see a reduction of at least 20 percent from the level of early Spring 2004. A major reason for considering the moose population too large was the fact that moose are a danger to traffic. Approximately a quarter of the respondents felt that the moose population at the national level is satisfactory.
The aim of this Metla research was to survey the attitudes of citizens towards moose as part of nature, their opinions about hunting and experiences concerning accidents caused by moose and ideas on how the applied preventive methods work.
The survey was conducted in January-February 2004 as a mail questionnaire sent to 15-79 year-old Finns. The response rate was 60 percent. The average age of the respondents was 46 years. The youngest was 15 and the oldest was over 80. Roughly a tenth of the respondents named hunting as their hobby and 28 percent owned forest land.
Approximately half of the 2400 respondents considered that the moose population in early spring 2004 was too large. Many respondents had personal experience of how dangerous moose can be on the roads with two thirds of the respondents knowing someone who had been involved in a collision with a moose. The general opinion was that the currently applied controls of the moose population do not pay sufficient attention to the danger caused by moose to traffic.
The most important means of preventing moose collisions was considered to be building moose fences and underpasses. The second most important means was considered to be controlling the size of the moose population. Several respondents felt that clearing the roadsides of vegetation and keeping a careful eye on the roadside when driving were also important in preventing accidents. Personal driving habits were also considered to be a factor.
The respondents took a relatively positive attitude to hunting as a hobby, with very few opposing hunting on the grounds that hunting was unnecessary and cruel. It was generally felt that it is necessary for man to manage the natural environment and to limit the numbers of cervids. Over half of the respondents felt that moose hunting is a suitable hobby for young people. According to the general public opinion, it would be impossible to control the moose population and prevent accidents and damages caused by moose without hunting.
The research was part of a Metla project 3410 on the optimal population size of cervids and the impact on forestry, biodiversity and management of forest ecosystems.