GALLERY: Spring awakening for Finland’s hibernating wild bears

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Brown bear / Credit: Paul Stevens

Despite the current coronavirus restrictions – and after the dark snowless winter months – spring has reached at least the southern half of Finland.

In the east of the country however, brown bears are waking up from their hibernation in the forests along the border with Russia, and it’s a good idea to be extra careful if you’re hiking in that part of Finland.

After no food for up to six month, the bears are hungry and probably grumpy too.

Although brown bears prefer to eat lots of forest berries before their autumn hibernation, when they wake up in spring they’re on the look out for meat to gain weight and build muscle.

Luckily, they tend to avoid humans and prefer to hunt elk instead.

You’re not likely to see a bear during a forest walk, but it doesn’t mean they’re not around. Finland’s largest carnivores are experts at disappearing into the forest shadows. They’ll usually see or hear humans first, and move off in a different direction.

All of the photos in this month’s gallery are of wild brown bears taken in summer 2018 from a commercial photo hide in Martinselkonen, Suomussalmi, Kainuu. Although food is put out to attract the bears, they can come and go as they wish.

This gallery comes from the lens of Espoo-based wildlife photographer Paul Stevens. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.