Tuesday August 9, 2011
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Tupsuntie 75, 74300 Sonkajärvi, Finland
Otters (Lutra lutra) are protected in Finland, but it is legal to hunt beavers (Castor canadensis). Otters often live in the ponds and thickets made by beavers. There is plenty of shelter and often open-water in winter because of water flowing over the dam.
One typical accident happened on 13.4.2001 in eastern Finland, Tuusniemi, Karhulampi (Bearlake). A man was waiting for beavers in the evening. He heard a splash such as a beaver makes when warning conspecifics by hitting the water with its tail. Soon after the sound, the hunter saw a swimming head and shot. After noting that he shot an otter instead of a beaver he informed the police. According to Finnish law, the prosecutor has two years to consider whether to bring an action into court or not. After one year, still nothing has happened in the Karhulampi case. A corresponding event was documented on 26.11.1993, also in eastern Finland. Then the hunter was not prosecuted "because he honestly informed about the incident". However, both hunters have broken the law by shooting at an unknown animal in twilight; further, you may not shoot swimming beavers.
In theory, the value of a poached otter in Finland is estimated at up to 1,200 Euros. Nobody knows how often such accidents happen; however, it is known that otters have also sometimes been shot in Finland during waterfowl hunts.
Some hunters in Finland "hate" otters because they open the "katiskas" (local fish traps) and steal the catch. Such persons now safely kill, and will continue to kill, 'by accident' the "nuisance" otter if the prosecutors do not change their line. The problem is, of course, that in the case that prosecutors take a harder line nobody would report such incidents anymore.
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