The Articmedia Lassi Rautiainen family business does not only arrange wildlife watching and photographing, but also it is a publishing company; producing books, calendars and postcards. Furthermore, we sell Lassi's photos of these web pages.
How it all came to life
In the end of 1970s, professional wildlife photographer Lassi Rautiainen was a pioneer to start feeding bears in Finland in order to photograph them. Without carcasses, it is impossible to see bears, wolverines and wolves in Finland or in other areas where animals are hunted, because they are very afraid of people. When in the 80s Lassi went to Sweden and Norway to tell of his photography work, many colleagues wanted to join him and take pictures of bears in Finland. Since 1991, photographers from various countries have come to Kuhmo near the Russian border in Lassi’s hides. Lassi started his bear photography in his home area Suomussalmi, north of Kuhmo (see maps). In order to see those shy animals, he began to put out carcass to bears in Suomussalmi and Kuhmo, too. Today, Articmedia is operating mainly in Kuhmo and Kuusamo (maps) for winter safaris.
The Animals and the Setting
Our bears, wolves and wolverines are usually living in Russia, but paying a visit to our ‘photo studios’ in Finland, since animals are allowed to pass the border without any visa. The major part of our photo hides are only some hundred meters away from the Russian border, in a one to three kilometres wide military zone called ‘no man’s land’, a relict from the times of the Cold War. After World War II, Finland and Russia had mutually agreed on controlling their common borderline strictly on both sides. An explicite law on the border zone was compiled in 1947 and renewed in 2005. This border zone is a perfect area for wildlife photography, since you need a permit to accede the zone, thus no one can disturb our photographic adventures and chase away our animals.
About feeding and photographing predators
In order to feed predators, there are permits needed. Lassi has worked for a long time intensively with the Finnish Agriculture Ministry, in order that it was continually possible to arrange wildlife watching and photography in the EU countries (Finland became EU member in 1995). Finally, in April 2009, the EU commission accepted that member countries can decide themselves about the use of carcasses in nature. Then, in summer 2009, Finland was the first EU country to enact its own law of wild animal feeding. At the same time, it was decided to allow raccoon dog and fox hunting on carcasses.
An old Finnish tradition was to kill bears using carcasses. When a bear took a cow, a sheep or even a horse, local men built up a wooden level (fin. talas) up in the tree close by, where a hunter would sit and wait that the bear is coming back at night. When a bear was shot, the hunter was celebrated as a big hero and his village organized a hunting party called peijaiset. However, by the Finnish hunting law, using carcasses in order to hunt bears is prohibited for a long time today. Unfortunately, there are still hunters who illegally put out dead animals to shoot bears.
On the other hand, carcasses are sometimes used to save a species. In the 1960s, environment toxins created a big risk for white tailed eagles in Finland. The WWF and many other nature lovers worked over 30 years at the Baltic Sea to save the eagles, for which the ideal food are dead pigs. The action was a success, so WWF stopped feeding them in 2000. But still many birdwatchers privately feed eagles for their own purposes.
Wildlife watching and photographing belongs to the top ten nature products in the EU. In 2008, this product even received an EU award, and also Finnish travel journalists selected ‘wildlife watching and photographing’ for the award of the best nature travel product in 2009.
Every year, many thousand nature friends travel to Finland to see and photograph wildlife. Nowadays, Articmedia Lassi Rautiainen Ky is not alone to organize wildlife watching and photography. From northern Karelia up to Kuusamo there are about 15 family firms to do the same like pioneer Lassi Rautiainen.