Walruses, which weigh nearly 600 kilograms, have repeatedly appeared in the past few weeks in front of the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on boats at the mooring and inadvertently developed into a summer attraction for spectators, tourists and residents. Walruses usually live in the north.
People kept getting very close to the animal to take pictures. Some even jumped into the water. Despite warnings to stop careless behavior, authorities were unable to protect the walrus from onlookers. “We evaluated all possible options,” said Fisheries Director Frank Buck Jensen.
One can understand whether the public is now upset or not, Buck-Jensen said. But while animal welfare is a valuable asset, people’s lives and safety must come first, a spokesperson said. Walruses chased people on paddleboards and kayaks. In July, authorities wanted to avoid euthanasia at all costs. Animal transportation has been discussed before. However, the risks of such a procedure were too great.
Environmental and animal protection organizations criticized the actions of the authorities on social networks. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in France spoke on Twitter of “an absolute disgrace to Norway”. Authorities wouldn’t be ashamed to kill a protected animal “rather than making sure onlookers stay away from them.”
A spokeswoman for the Norwegian Animal Protection Organization, Seri Martinsen, told Norwegian TV2 that the measure was hasty. Fines should have been imposed for keeping spectators away. “It’s absolutely horrific. We are in a position to be able to be considerate of wild animals and teach people how to be considerate of wild animals.”
Norwegian biologist Ron Aye told NTB news agency that it was “very sad that the decision was made to euthanize such a beautiful animal” due to human behaviour. The Blue Planet Society, which works to protect the world’s oceans, called the decision “absolutely shameful”.
After the killing, the Fisheries Department argued that the five-year-old walrus’ welfare had declined dramatically. Quoting expert opinions, Buck-Jensen said the animal was under severe stress.
Over the course of the week, it became apparent that “the public ignored the current recommendation to keep a clear distance from the walrus”. The head of the authority added that the animal was killed in a “humane way” and the body was taken to veterinarians for further examination. Walruses are on the endangered species list and are strictly protected.
Norwegians kill Freya walruses
A female walrus fry was put to sleep. This was announced by the Norwegian authorities on Sunday.
A rescue operation was carried out in France last week to transport a beluga whale that got lost in the Seine. He was to be taken to a seawater reservoir in the English Channel town of Westerham, 100 miles away, checked and cared for there for a few days. The whale died while being trucked due to respiratory problems.
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