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Managing predators, managing reindeer: contested conceptions of predator policies in Finland's southeast reindeer herding area

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2011

Hannu I. Heikkinen
Thule Institute, P.O. Box 7300, University of Oulu, FIN-90014, Finland (
Outi Moilanen
Thule Institute, P.O. Box 7300, University of Oulu, FIN-90014, Finland (
Mark Nuttall
Department of Anthropology, 13-15 HM Tory Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, T6G 2H4, Canada and Thule Institute, P.O. Box 7300, University of Oulu, FIN-90014, Finland
Simo Sarkki
Thule Institute, P.O. Box 7300, University of Oulu, FIN-90014, Finland


Preserving biodiversity and establishing healthy and thriving populations of predator animals are the expressed aims of many wildlife and ecosystem conservation projects and initiatives. However, such conservation strategies are often in conflict with the traditions, practices and land-use priorities of local communities. This article concentrates on the situation concerning the predation of reindeer (mainly by wolves) in Finland's southeast reindeer herding area and its immediate vicinity, but makes reference to the broader situation of predation and reindeer herding in Finland. Based on analysis of statistics and interviews with local stakeholders, the research findings refer to the intermingled contradictions related to conceptual, statistical and other management relevant knowledge and resulting problems, for example, in conservation hunting licensing. The article concludes that the wolf comprises a complex case for nature conservation initiatives and sustainable reindeer husbandry and that, in practice, it has particular implications compared to other policy approaches to dealing with the problem of animal predators. The article ends with some theoretical considerations as to whether we can improve our understanding of modern human-environment relations by deriving ideas from the actor-network theory debates.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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