Urbanization has spread even among animals.

Rabbits descending from abandoned pets have been spreading in concentric circles from Kyläsaari Recycling Centre since the 1970s. I saw my first rabbit one dark November morning three years ago near the Opera House, and since last summer I've seen rabbits by the Töölö Bay almost every day on my way to work. August last year there were more than 2000 rabbits. The mild winter was favourable, and rabbits were born all through it. The trunks of lilacs and other bushes had been eaten bare by this spring, and dead branches had to be carted away by the truck load. This morning I saw even two albino babies, but they won't last long... The gardeners of the Kaisaniemi Botanical Gardens hunt rabbits with bow and arrow. A fascinating image... This year even the more efficient but prosaic firearms were accepted as a rabbit killing tool. I hope a solution will be found that allows both rabbits and plants to live.

It is said the increase in the urban Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) population in connected with the spread of rabbits. The owl Bubi (named for the sports commentator Bubi Wallenius) - claimed to have decided a football match between Finland and Belgium in favour of Finland - was selected as the Person of the Year 2007 in Helsinki. It is said that it didn't care for rock concerts, however.


Just a few years ago I had never seen Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis), and then suddenly there were thousands of them in the metropolitan region. This year there are 500 nesting couples just in Helsinki. Arctic Barnacle Geese are protected, and thus also the city flocks because there are geese of arctic origin among them. It is said that the females pick up arctic boyfriends in their overwintering areas and bring them along to the lusher lawns of Helsinki. However, there is the benefit that that Barnacle Geese seem to drive away the bigger Canadian Geese; I've seen with my own eyes a couple chase away a Canadian Goose.

Squirrels are more traditional urbanites. Last August Reuters spread news of a squirrel stealing Kinder Surprise Eggs round the world. After reading the news, a co-worker told about a squirrel that - having seen through a window that he kept nuts in a certain drawer - entered through the backdoor and broke into the drawer. It almost makes one wonder whether there might be something in the Iranian claims about squirrels used as spies...

One has to ask which animals don't live in cities these days... A lynx has left its paw prints in our garden in Lahti, and a newspaper article told about three cats that had been found with their necks broken. It was assumed that a lynx had been teaching its young how to hunt. Bears, elks, foxes, and field hares are regularly seen. In president Kekkonen's grave there lives a stoat...