Perho city wolves suspected as hybrids

Hunting and Fishing, Finland, 3/2014 :

In January 2013 in Perho three suspected wolf-dog hybrids were illegally killed.

The persons suspected of a serious hunting crime, have sent the DNA samples of these three wolves for examination to the Vavilov Institute at the Russian Academy of Science.

"Russian geneticists tell that the wolves were hybrids. At the same time there was also examined a blood sample of a wolf called Auli with a yellow fur that was shot in South-Western Finland in Pöytyä in January 2012. That one they determined as a dog”, reveals the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute retired deer researcher Kaarlo Nygren.

He says he acted as a contact man between the hunters and Russian researchers.

The suspected criminal hunting of Perho is still awaiting court proceedings. Hunting and Fishing magazine has been informed that the defendants base their defense in the genetic impurity of the killed wolves.

The hunt was launched, because a pack of wolves behaved in a tame manner.

About 20 years ago in Perho city, the authorities were responsible for the decision of hunting the dog-wolf pack behaving the same way.

In the primary investigation by the police, the University of Oulu has already analyzed the three poached wolves’ and Auli-wolf’s DNA samples .

"They were all pure wolves”, says Professor Jouni Aspi .

Due to the incompleteness of the legal process, he does not comment on the Russian research results, but wonders the interpretations made of them.

"We use about 500 wolves’ gene bank of Finland and neighboring countries, to which we have compared each individual's genome. The oldest samples are from the 1800s. The Russians had no such reference material. "

The wolf and dog mating is a very rare occurrence.  After the year 2000 there has been known only three wolf-dog hybrids living in the wild. Kaarlo Nygren sees this as underestimating the observations. Also, the animal's appearance and behaviour should be characterized as typical for a savage wolf .

"The European wolves already have a strong mix of dogs. Genetic differences are diminishing. Real wolves can still be found in Russia and the North American wilderness – in Finland, hardly more than a few dozen."

Nygren, Ilomantsi city resident, is concerned about widespread wolf-like wild dogs in Russian Karelia in the recent years.

"For example, at the Vartsila waste storage area there are living at the present time about 20 wolf-dogs in a mixed herd. There are dozens more of these hybrids on the border of Finland and Russia, and some of them have moved to Finland."

The national Wolf Management Plan is currently being updated. The hybrids are to be killed to save the racial purity and wolf-like behavior and to preserve the species of the pure wolves by current guidelines of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The dog is a domesticated wolf. It complicates the determination of the species. It is thought that the wolf would be imposed by the number 1 and dog 2. Genetic hybrids can be anything between 1-2 . The ongoing controversy is an academic argument of the place of a thousandth of a decimal : Where is the border for a wolf, a dog or a wolf-dog-hybrid?

Alignment is difficult, but mandatory. The wolf-dog does not belong to the nature. Perho city’s criminal court sessions will solve a place for the decimal comma.

Jere Malinen (journalist)