Brown Bears of Finland

July-August, 2015

The Eurasian Brown Bear is the national animal of Finland and has long been a symbol of Russia. According to the Natural Resources Institute in Finland, the population of the brown bear rose by 15 per cent in the last year and it should be somewhere between 1,720 and 1,840 brown bears in Finland. Until the 1970's, the state still paid hunters if they shot a bear. Now bears are protected, each year 5-10 bear hunting licenses a year are granted. 

We've spent a week in July and a week in August photographing this powerful animal.
We never get tired of seeing this beautiful animal and each trip presents itself with new challenges and opportunities.
On our arrival, the rain had poured nearly all day. The forest was a slop of mud and puddles, and the water level have risen dramatically in the swamp.

Brown Bear after RainBrown Bear after Rain

Toward late evening, we spotted a sow with two cubs crossing the swamp. 

Bear with Cubs in the SwampBear with Cubs in the Swamp

They came a bit closer to the hide but did not stay long. Cubs looked alert and kept scanning the woods for male bears (called boars).​ 

Brown Bear with CubsBrown Bear with Cubs Bears Looking for DangerBears Looking for Danger Scarred Bear CubScarred Bear Cub

A full grown male weighs on average 250 and 300 kilograms (550 and 660 lb).

The largest Eurasian brown bear recorded was 481 kg (1,058 lb). Females typically range between 150–250 kg (330–550 lb). Bears live as long as 30 years in the wild. One captive brown bear lived to the age of 47. The most accurate way to determine the age of a bear is to count the rings in a cross section of its tooth root under a microscope.

The Eurasian Brown Bear has a rounded head, small ears and a wide skull. 

Close-up of Brown BearClose-up of Brown Bear Portrait of Eurasian Brown BearPortrait of Eurasian Brown Bear

 The hair of this coat can grow up to five inches long. Brown bears have fur in shades of brown, black, tan or blond, or a combination of those colors. Bears have two layers of fur. A short layer of fur keeps the bear warm, a long layer keeps water away from the skin and short fur.

Claws can grow up to five inches long. It's like a human finger.

Brown Bear in FinlandBrown Bear in Finland

Brown bears can move rocks and logs and dig through hard soil using their long sharp claws.

The Eurasian Bear is an omnivore, it tends to feed on vegetation, fish and small land mammals, but the bears will only occasionally hunt bigger mammals. The archaeological remains of these bears show that animals were up to 80% carnivorous. Afterwards, when humans became a bigger threat and prevented the bears from hunting livestock, the animals had to adapt to their surroundings. The Brown Bear’s diet is now 15% meat, while the polar bear is a true carnivore. Brown bears mostly eat berries, roots, leaves, insects, and fruit. 

Bear Cub enjoying BlueberriesBear Cub enjoying Blueberries

Bears have been known to go after human grain stores for food, with some Russian Bears actually getting drunk on grain alcohol.

The diet of brown bears varies enormously throughout their differing ranges. For example, bears in Yellowstone National Park eat an enormous number of moths during the summer, sometimes as many as 40,000 in a day in August. In areas of Russia and Alaska, brown bears feed mostly on salmon, the nutrition and abundance of this food accounts for the enormous size of the bears from these areas. 

Brown bears don't seem to be a great threat towards humans. They only attack humans when defending their cubs or that they are starving. There was a tragic case that took place in June 1998, Finland. A man in his forties was out jogging in the forest in the Southeast Finland. From information received in the media, he surprised a female bear with a cub close to the jogging track and was killed.

It is not in order to threaten someone that a bear stands on his legs. The reason is to get a better smell, sight or a good scratch.

Brown BearBrown Bear Brown Bear StandingBrown Bear Standing Brown Bear at DuskBrown Bear at Dusk

The cubs behave the same way when they want to get a better picture. 

Bear Cub HidingBear Cub Hiding

Ancient Eurasian tribes worshiped the bear; its ability to stand and walk on two legs led them to believe it was a their brother.

If we watch the cubs play-fighting together - they're just look like children. 


One of the days was particularly warm, and some of the bears kept sitting on their hind legs in the forest trying to cool down.

Brown Bear "Hi Five"Brown Bear "Hi Five" Brown Bear MaleBrown Bear Male Brown Bear in SummerBrown Bear in Summer

 Late afternoon to early evening is when we tend to see more bears in the swamp area and by the lake. Couple years ago when we visited pond area, there was plenty of action from fluffy bear cubs who kept climbing up and getting down the trees all evening. 

Bear Cubs in the TreeBear Cubs in the Tree Bear Cub in the TreeBear Cub in the Tree

This year cub activity by the pond was very poor. The area was left for adults and 'teenagers'. The evening was calm, with no wind. Perfect conditions to photograph reflection. 

Reflection of Brown Bear MaleReflection of Brown Bear Male Bear Climbing the TreeBear Climbing the Tree

 If you are interested in bear cub photography, please read this blog.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed it.