Three species of forest mammals prevalent in the Åland forests will be featured on stamps to be issued on 15 September. Painted by Bo Lundwall, a leading Swedish animal and nature artist, the stamps illustrating mountain hare, least weasel and raccoon dog are inserted in this year’s stamp booklet.
Mountain hare (Lepus timidus) and least weasel (Mustela nivalis) are indigenous species that may be seen all over Åland. Both animals change colours with the seasons. On the stamps, they are illustrated in their summer coats. The herbivorous mountain hare is the sprinter of the forest, and the weasel is the smallest land predator of the Nordic countries. The weasel very much resembles the ermine but is slightly smaller and has a shorter tail that lacks the black tail-tip of the ermine. Bo illustrates its smallness by placing it next to some cowslips, the provincial flower of Åland.
The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) is the approximate size of a fox and resembles a raccoon. Bo depicted it in its winter pelage when the fur is at its best. Appearing in Åland since the 1970s, the omnivorous raccoon dog is an invasive species from the east. It may cause damage among domestic species of birds and spread diseases such as rabies. Consequently, raccoon dogs may be hunted year round. Mountain hare may be hunted in winter whereas the least weasel is a protected species.