Elk hunting preserves the vitality of the population

The Eurasian elk (Alces alces) has roamed Finnish forests since the Stone Age. Because the king of the forest has very few natural predators, the elk population must be controlled by hunting, which is strictly regulated by law and subject to licence. But no elk are killed so we can make leather: we only use the skin of elk culled for the purpose of population control. Kaarna Elk Leather is made exclusively from the hides of elk that have led a free and untamed life in the wild.

Elk hunting is a form of game management

The elk is a game animal. Elk hunting is practised as a form of game management to prevent overpopulation and protect the continuity and vitality of the species. Game management is the practice of preserving or improving game animal populations and their living conditions.

If elk were no longer hunted, the greatest loss would be suffered by the elk population. According to official estimates, elk numbers would quadruple in just a few years, which would mean that there would no longer be enough food for the elk and many other animals.

Elk hunting also serves to reduce the forest damage elk cause, such as damage to the new buds of young trees.

If the elk population was allowed to grow uncontrollably, fatal collisions with motor vehicles would also increase significantly. The resultant increase in damage, deaths and injuries would cause massive financial losses to society, not to mention human suffering.

Also because it is a form of game management, hunting must always be practiced in an ethically and ecologically sustainable manner. Elk hunting must not endanger the elk population, damage the environment or cause the animals unnecessary suffering.

The Finnish elk population is counted every year, and the Finnish Wildlife Agency uses the data to fix the hunting quota and grant enough hunting licences to keep the population at the target level.

Hunters must have a licence, and they must notify the Finnish Wildlife Agency of every culled animal. Elk hunting is only permitted during a limited time in the autumn and winter; outside the hunting season, the elk is a protected species.

In Finland, our hunting tradition requires that hunters treat their quarry with the utmost respect. The Finnish Hunting Act expressly states that it is illegal to cause animals unnecessary pain and suffering, and every hunter must pass a theory test and a shooting test to ensure that they know how to hunt in an ethical and respectful manner.

The Hunting Act also contains provisions that protect nature: hunters move about in the forest by foot because hunting animals from a car or any other vehicle is strictly forbidden.

Elk hunting is an age-old tradition

The elk has lived in Finnish forests for thousands of years, always in solitude but never far from people. In the old times, Finns were hunter-gatherers who lived off the land and used every last bit of the animals they hunted. The elk was a highly valuable prey animal because it was a source of not only food and skins, but also materials for tools. The age-old tradition of elk hunting continues in Finland today as a traditional hobby and a way of sourcing food.

Because the elk is a highly respected game animal, the tradition of putting culled animals to good use is followed even today. The hunters keep the meat for food, but processing the hides is generally too much work for individual hunters or hunting clubs to handle.
We could not make Kaarna if elk were not hunted, but elk are never hunted so that we can make Kaarna.
If we did not recover the raw hides from the hunters, they would be left to rot in the forest.

For decades now, we have put a great deal of dedication and hard work into building a modern, efficient and environmentally friendly system to salvage and process the hides of culled elk.

We work closely with hunting clubs year round to recover a large number of hides. We spend eight months of the year travelling over 80,000 kilometres across the harsh wilderness of the Nordic North to collect the raw hides that we use to make Kaarna.

The craft that has been passed down for generations in our family and the amount of work required to salvage the hides – both these things guarantee that we pay our rare and precious raw material every bit of respect it deserves.

Once we have collected the hides from hunting clubs, we sort them at our factory. We then tan all hides suitable for leather production to make Kaarna and use everything else to make chew bones and treats for dogs. Nothing is wasted: we use 100% of this raw material.

We know that the leather we make is ethical and ecological. It is our legacy and our duty. And it just feels right.