Lynx, Wolf or...Hedgehog? Tracking a Movement to Pick a National Animal (1)
With the wolf being picked animal of the year in 2012, interest has been kindled in finally choosing a national animal.
Estonia's national symbols include the barn swallow (bird), bachelor's button (flower) and limestone (mineral). Lions appear on the coat of arms, as in other Nordic countries, but there is as yet no clear front-runner for national animal.
The lynx, one of the most secretive predators in the forest, is among the possible candidates, reported Eesti Päevaleht. It doesn't hurt that the current president's last name means "lynx." Others include wolf, moose (elk to Britons), beaver, badger and hedgehog.
Estonian Nature Conservation Society head Jaan Riis told the daily his picks would be lynx or wolf - preferably the latter. "The wolf shows that we have enough wilderness left for the wolf," said Riis. "Wolves are not loved, but they are respected - we respect that it has a place beside us.”
Rein Maran, a well-known nature film-maker, said that the wolf would also allow Estonia to stand distinct from its neighbours. (Finland and Russia's national animal is the bear. Lithuania has the auroch, even though it, like Belarus's European bison, is extinct. Sweden has the lion and moose.)
"But," said Maran, "it wouldn't be bad if our biggest mammal the moose, a mighty animal as well, were national beast - it is an indicator that shows the health of a forest." It is also a survivor - after World War I there were only 18 left, but they have bounded back.
Maran's second and third pick would be the beaver and badger. "The first is an inveterate builder, industrious, clever ad crafty, often working alone. Badgers are similar. But there is also a movement on Facebook with around 500 supporters who support the hedgehog for being closest to the national character.
Whatever the case, naturalists say that the national animal should not reflect culinary preferences, such as the 2007 decision to make the Baltic herring the national fish.