With over two thirds of the country covered in forests, woodland wildlife is abundant, yet often hard to spot. The forests are home to wild bears, wolves, elk, beavers and many other species that have all but vanished from other parts of Europe. Bears and wolves are rarely encountered unless one travels on an organized wildlife viewing trip to eastern Finland. Elk sightings are more common and Lapland residents have to be careful of driving into reindeer. While hunting is allowed, particularly in rural areas, the licenses and season quotas are strictly monitored to ensure the protection of the wild populations.
Bird watching is an extremely popular pastime in Finland given the diversity of species found, and is equally popular activity for any Finland trip. The country provides the habitat for five species of grouse, ten owl species, Wryneck, Woodpeckers, eagles, cranes, waders, passerines, and warblers. The best times to views these birds are during spring when the mating season calls them out of their nests more often. The nature reserves and national parks offer great wildlife viewing opportunities.
The Brown Bear, the national animal of Finland, is actually rarely found in the forests. With an estimated 1000 bears inhabiting the eastern regions, hunting is still permitted. Most bears will often cross over to the Russian side of the eastern border during hunting season, and may return in spring after hibernation. Wolverine and deer likewise are elusive, but there are the rare enthusiasts willing to camp out on their Finland trip in the eastern regions…they may get lucky and spot these mammals.