jones_supa writes: A project to construct man-made dens for the endangered Saimaa seal will continue after recently receiving EU funding for the next five years. The Saimaa ringed seal is among the most endangered seals in the world, having a current total population of only about 310 in the Saimaa area of Finland. The population is descended from ringed seals that were separated from the rest of their species after the last ice age. This seal, along with the Ladoga seal and the Baikal seal, is one of the few living freshwater seals in the world and Finland is working hard to preserve its tiny population. The University of Eastern Finland and Finland’s Forest Government Organization are leading a group of volunteers to build the right size snow drifts near the water. Finding volunteers has not been a problem as dozens of volunteers participate in den counts each spring, covering the entire Saimaa area. Last winter, a full one-half of the man-made dens were housed by the seals, so the project is considered to be successful.