Who can be hunted?
Large game animals:
Brown bear, Ursus arctos
The biggest predator in Estonian woods. The bears living in Estonia belong to the average size race, weight is between 90–340 kg. Record scull has been 67.46 CIC points (a Baltic record, 10th in the world chart). In 2007, 27 specimens were hunted, in 2008, 37 specimens.
The bear, except mother bear with cubs, can be ambushed or stalked from 1 August until 31 October with the aim of avoiding the damage caused by the bear in that region. So the so-called pest bears can also be hunted.
60 permits were issued in 2009 for hunting bears but only 40–45 bears were shot by the end of the season. In 2010 the same number of permits was issued but 57 animals were hunted. In 2011, it is allowed to hunt 65 bears.
Wolf, Canis lupus
The most feared predator in the Estonian forest. The biggest wolf ever hunted weighed 82 kg. In 2007, 39 specimens were hunted; in 2008 the number was 156. The wolf is common in almost everywhere in Estonia. According to the figures from 2009, there were about 270 wolves living in Estonia at that time. During the season from 1 November 2009 until 28 February 2010 it was allowed to hunt 172 wolves but only 101 were caught.
The wolf is called the nurse of the forest in Estonian folklore because it hunts sick or injured animals and limits the population of rodents and hoofed animals.
Eurasian elk (moose), Alces alces
The most treasured hunting game in Estonia throughout the times. The biggest animal in our forests. Elks weighing more than half a ton have been hunted in Estonia. 4911 specimens were hunted in 2007, 4,133 in 2008, 4,031 in 2009, and 4,255 specimens in 2010. There are about 10,000 elks in Estonia. Every year about a third is hunted but despite this the elk population is not decreasing as the growth of the population is also about 30 % per year. Grown-up specimens weigh about 300–500 kg on average, calves about 100 kg.
Red deer, Cervus elaphus
Every Estonian hunter must be yearning for the antlers of the red deer to their wall. The red deer is mostly common on the islands Hiiumaa and Saaremaa. 220 specimens were hunted in 2007, 300 in 2008, 403 in 2009, and 497 specimens in 2010.
Wild boar, Sus scrofa
The wild boar arrived in Estonia in the 1920s. Nowadays it has spread all over the country. The weight of wild boars hunted in Estonia is usually between 50 and 150 kg. The biggest boar ever hunted weighed 350 kg, biggest sow 300 kg. The number of specimens hunted was 13,818 in 2007, 19,757 in 2008, 20,072 in 2009, and 17,028 in 2010.
The boars who usually live alone, join the sounder during mating season when angry fights take place and the weaker are pushed aside. The winner will impregnate all the sows of the sounder. Maturity is achieved early, in favourable conditions also piglets may be impregnated. The piglets are born in the period from March until May. In autumn, piglets make up more than 50% of the population.
Roe deer, Capreolus capreolus
The hoofed animal with the biggest population in Estonia. The population of roe deer is in good condition at the moment. The average weight of specimen found in Estonia is about 25–30 kg. 19,643 animals were hunted in 2007, the number was 18,006 in 2008, 15,716 in 2009, and 5075 in 2010.
The mating season of roe deer starts at the end of July and lasts until mid-August. During that time powerful callings of bucks and quiet squeaking of doe can be heard. When two bucks meet, they evaluate each other’s antlers, build and courage. If it is clearly visible that one of the bucks is not of strong enough build to step up to the other, then the weaker one flees. But if both bucks feel strong enough, they start fighting and continue until one of them either flees or dies. The stronger buck gets the right to mate with the doe. The doe usually has 1 or 2 (in rare cases also 3) spotted fawns who struggle to get by at first. They are killed by lynxes, bears, wolves and even foxes. A large number of roe deer is killed also on roads and during harvesting grain.
Lynx, Felis lynx
The only feline living locally in Estonian nature. It weighs about 20 to 25 kg. According to different researchers, a lynx eats about 40–80 roe deer per year. Record skull – 28.99 CIC points (second place in the world chart), record skin – 214.84 CIC points which is also the world record. 76 specimens were hunted in 2007, 150 in 2008, 184 in 2009, and 181 specimens in 2010.
In the 2009/2010 hunting season, 210 lynx hunting permits were issued but only 180 specimens were hunted.
The mating season is in February and March. One female can be chased by up to 5 males. The female is ready for mating for three days, gestation lasts 63–74 days. There are usually 1–6 in offspring, mostly 2–3. They are usually born in May, weighing about 300 grams, and develop eyesight by the 12th day. For two months they feed on mother’s milk, the offspring remain with the mother until the end of their first year. They become mature at the age of two.
The Great Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo
This big and dark bird can be met both by the sea as well as by freshwater. It nests on coastal cliffs or in trees. In recent ten years this bird has become truly widespread here. As it feeds on fish, its large population causes damage to the fish supply and ruins the fishermen’s nets. All vegetation dies around its nesting colonies. It weighs up to 2.5 kg and it is hunted for the regulation of its population. 345 specimens were hunted in 2007, 407 in 2008, 707 in 2009, and 594 in 2010.
The Taiga Bean Goose, Anser fabalis
Nests in swampy places and in taiga on the territories near the Arctic Ocean. A migratory bird, migrates through Estonia in spring as well as in autumn. Main colour of plumage is brown, the feet are orange yellow. Weighs up to 4.2 kg. 1,400 specimens were hunted in 2007, 1,481 in 2008, 1,487 in 2009, and 1,104 in 2010.
The Greater White-fronted Goose, Anser albifrons
A species of goose widespread in the circumpolar area. Nests in solitary couples in swampy tundra north of the forest line. A migratory bird that stops over in Estonia in spring and autumn. Characteristic features are white facial blaze (does not extend upwards to the eyes) and abdominal shield with strong pattern (big black patches). Weighs up to 3.3 kg. 453 specimens were hunted in 2007, 846 in 2008, 559 in 2009, and 288 specimens in 2010.
The Greylag Goose, Anser anser
Nests in Iceland, Scotland, from Central Europe to the Pacific Ocean, also in Finland and Sweden. Both a nester and as a migratory bird in Estonia. Nests on bays rich in reed and on coastal lakes, also on islands in the sea. Main colour is grey. Migrates through Estonia in September. The last Greylag Geese leave Estonia in October. Weighs up to 4.5 kg. 922 specimens were hunted in 2007, 1,239 in 2008, 1,005 in 2009, and 977 in 2010.
The Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
A species of large brand goose native to the North of America and with many subspecies. Has a white ’chinstrap’ on the cheeks and under the throat. Nesting areas closest to us are in Finland and Sweden. Some specimens are seen every year. Weighs up to 5.4 kg. 15 specimens were hunted in 2007, 9 in 2008, 17 in 2009, and 23 in 2010.
The Barnacle Goose, Branta leucopsis
Nests in Greenland, Spitzbergen, Novaja Zemlja and elsewhere on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. In small numbers nests also in Estonia. Migrates through Estonia in autumn in great numbers. The top of the face, cheeks and area under the throat are white. Weighs up to 2.4 kg. 462 specimens were hunted in 2007, 1,324 in 2008, 1,085 in 2009, and 2,778 in 2010.
The Eurasian Wigeon, Anas penelope
The Eurasian Wigeon is a bit smaller than a crow and quite stubby. Mainly a migratory bird for Estonia, in some areas also summer bird (flocks of moulting male birds can be seen on bays in June and July). Nests in Estonia in small numbers. Weighs up to 1 kg. 1,078 specimens were hunted in 2007, 761 in 2008, 1,255 in 2009, and 1,454 in 2010.
The Gadwall, Anas strepera
Smaller than a crow, similar to the Mallard. Nests mainly in the Southeast of Europe. A breeder with small population in Estonia. Lives on bodies of water rich in vegetation. Weighs up to 1.3 kg. 164 specimens were hunted in 2007, 55 in 2008, 106 in 2009, and 161 in 2010.
The Eurasian Teal, Anas crecca
The Eurasian Teal is one of our smallest dabbling ducks, can be up to the size of the Jackdaw. It is also one of our most numerous dabbling ducks both as a nesting bird and as a migratory bird. Lives on different inland bodies of water. Weighs up to 500 g. 3,118 specimens were hunted in 2007, 1,426 in 2008, 2,341 in 2009, and 3,688 in 2010.
The Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos
The Mallard has a quite massive body and is bigger than a crow. It has the biggest population and is the biggest dabbling duck in Estonia both as a nesting bird and as a migratory bird and in winter. Nests near water and also further away. Nest is on the ground and sometimes also in trees (in an old crow nest). Lives also in artificial nests. The Mallard make up the biggest part of game birds hunted in Estonia. Weighs up to 1.5 kg. 6,204 specimens were hunted in 2007, 6,024 in 2008, 7,125 in 2009, and 7,492 in 2010.
The Pintail, Anas acuta
The Pintail is about the size of a crow and slimmer than the Mallard. It has a rather big population both in nesting and as a migratory bird. Lives in shallow bodies of water and in wet grasslands. Male birds form flocks in summer, often together with other duck species. Weighs up to 1.3 kg. 364 specimens were hunted in 2007, 494 in 2008, 558 in 2009, and 678 in 2010.
The Garganey, Anas querquedula
The Garganey is the size of a Jackdaw like the Eurasian Teal but has a lighter plumage. In Estonia, it is a breeder with large population and less numerous as a migratory bird. Migrates usually to Africa. Weight up to 600 g. 299 specimens were hunted in 2007, 151 in 2008, 161 in 2009, and 161 in 2010.
The Northern Shoveler, Anas clypeata
The Northern Shoveler is of rather small size, smaller than a crow. Nests on bays, less on lakes. Weighs up to 1 kg. 226 specimens were hunted in 2007, 275 in 2008, 288 in 2009, and 270 in 2010.
The Common Pochard, Aythya ferina
The Common Pochard has a quite big population in Estonia and is a regular breeding bird here. Although its meat is tasty, it is hunted very little. About 20–30 specimens are hunted in autumns. Leaves in the beginning of October. Migrates to the Mediterranean area. Weighs up to 1.2 kg. 6 specimens were hunted in 2007, 8 in 2008, in 45 2009, and 41 in 2010.
The Tufted Duck, Aythya fuligula
One of the most numerous diving ducks on Estonian sea islands, coastal lakes, several types of inland bodies of water including fish ponds and bogs. The population is increasing. The Tufted Duck is also numerous as migratory bird. Compared to the size of its population it is hunted very little in Estonia. Weighs up to 1 kg. 43 specimens were hunted in 2007, 21 in 2008, 33 in 2009, and 25 in 2010.
The Common Scoter, Melanitta nigra
The Common Scoter is about the size of a raven, with all black (male) or dark brown (female) plumage. Nests in tundra area. Migrates through Estonia across the northern coast in large numbers. Hunted very rarely. Weighs up to 1.5 kg. 1 specimen was hunted in 2007, 49 specimens in 2008, 3 in 2009, and 1 in 2010.
The Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
140 specimens were hunted in 2007, 56 in 2008, 127 in 2009, and 112 in 2010.
The Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula
The Common Goldeneye is a breeder with small population in Estonia, nests mainly on forest lakes and also on rivers. Uses also artificial nests. Migrates through Estonia in large numbers. Spends winters on the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Weighs up to 1.3 kg. 92 specimens were hunted in 2007, 94 in 2008, 54 in 2009, and 177 in 2010.
The Hazel Grouse, Bonasa bonasia
The Hazel Grouse is a bird typical of the coniferous forests of the taiga zone. It is closely connected to spruce woodlands, especially damp mixed spruce forests where the undergrowth is plentiful. Common in the forests of Estonian mainland. Weighs up to 490 g. 84 specimens were hunted in 2007, 57 in 2008, 20 in 2009, and 37 in 2010.
The Grey Partridge, Perdix perdix
Perdix perdix lucida, the subspecies of the Grey Partridge is widespread in Estonia. The Grey Partridge is characteristic bird of steppes and forest steppes, who feeds only on the ground. It has moved to the northern parts of its habitat following the plow. It resembles domestic fowl but is much smaller. Weighs up to 430 g. 41 specimens were hunted in 2007, 46 in 2008, 13 in 2009, and 45 in 2010.
The Eurasian Coot, Fulica atra
The Eurasian Coot also known as Coot is a well-known waterfowl. The plumage of an old bird has a metallic shine, it also has a white beak and a white patch on the upper part of the face. In Estonia, it mostly nests on inland bodies of water and on the sea coast. It is also a common breeder in Estonia. Weighs up to 1.2 kg. 30 specimens were hunted in 2007, 84 in 2008, 50 in 2009, and 93 in 2010.
The Common Snipe, Gallinago gallinago
It is bigger than a Starling, has a twisted flight up usually accompanied by a characteristic sound. Nests in Estonia and also migrates through. Inhabits swamps, damp meadows, edges of bogs. In spring performs flight games. Weight up to 170 g. 7 specimens were hunted in 2007, 31 in 2008, 20 in 2009, and 107 in 2010.
The Eurasian Woodcock, Scolopax rusticola
About the size of a Jackdaw. Both nests in Estonia and migrates through. In warmer winters some Eurasian Woodcocks stay in Estonia in regions rich in springs. Favourite habitats include damp mixed and broadleaved deciduous forests with clearings. Weighs up to 420 g. 1,192 specimens were hunted in 2007, 979 in 2008, 976 in 2009, and 1,475 in 2010.