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.