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International conference for female hunters culminated in a bear hunt

More than 70 female hunters from all over the world gathered in Ilomantsi, Finland on August 17–20. The theme of the fourth Women and Sustainable Hunting (WaSH) conference was Woman and bear – from past to present.

For the first time ever, the conference was organized in northern Europe, and it featured participants from ten countries. This time there were also participants from Croatia and Poland. Larger groups came from e.g. Holland, Hungary, and Czech Republic.

This international conference is part of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation’s (CIC) Artemis club activities. It acts as the forum and networking event for female hunters. The number of female hunters is on the rise in many countries. At the moment, there are more than 22,000 female hunters in Finland alone. 

The main organizer behind the event in Finland was the Finnish Hunters’ Association, and the event was hosted by the North Karelian Huntresses Association. 

- This conference provides an excellent opportunity for networking and sharing information about the best practices in different countries, the Executive Manager of the Finnish Hunters’ Association Heli Siitari said.

The conference was held in the most bear-rich municipality in Finland, and the bear was discussed from the point of view of Finnish hunting and culture. The current challenges with the bear and other large carnivores in Europe were also under discussion at this international workshop. 

- The unique nature of North Karelia and the Finnish hunting culture provided a fantastic setting for the conference, the President of the Working Group Artemis, Soňa Chovanová Supeková said happily.

The conference featured speakers from Europe and USA. The youngest speaker, 14-year old Adriana Sojáková from Slovakia received the loudest applause of the day when she introduced her hunting-related nature project. All the participants shared the concern of the professor of the University of New York, Jacqueline Frair that young people have been alienated from nature. Everybody agreed that bushcraft and other wilderness skills should be part of the curriculum from the first grade onwards.

The participants also had the opportunity to participate in bear hunting that starts on August 20.

- This time we didn’t catch a bear, but the experience was unique since there are many European countries that don’t hunt bears at all, bears are not hunt, Siitari said.

Natural Resources Institute Finland estimates that the Finnish bear population has increased from last year, and our bear population is very sustainable. They estimate that our forests have c. 1,800 bears that are more than 1-year old.


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