Walrus Freya euthanized in Norway

Freya the walrus climbs on white boat
Freya the walrus climbs into a boat in Frognerkilen bay, Oslo, Norway July 20, 2022, credit: NTB/Trond Reidar Teigen via Reuters

Norwegian authorities have euthanized walrus Freya, because she was a “persistent threat to human security,” Frank Bakke-Jensen, the head of the Fisheries Directorate said on Sunday.

Since she first appeared in the bay of Oslo a month ago, she had been hanging out on boats and sleeping in the sun. Frey had become an attraction in Oslofjord.

On Friday, the Fisheries Directorate warned that they would put Freya down if the public didn’t stay away from her. The agency didn’t wait to see whether the public would listen but killed her two days after they announced they might kill her. “We carefully examined all the possible solutions,” Bakke-Jensen said. “We have great regard for animal welfare, but human life and safety must take precedence.”

Experts said the decision to kill Freya did not take into account the animal’s well-being.

“It’s very shocking,” Siri Martinsen, a spokeswoman for animal rights group NOAH, told TV2 television. She said it was a rushed measure and authorities should have given people fines if they didn’t listen to the advice to stay away from Freya. She added that killing Freya was a missed opportunity to show people how to respect wild animals.

“It’s infinitely sad that they chose to euthanise such a beautiful animal simply because we did not behave well with it,” biologist Rune Aae told the NTB news agency.

Earlier this week, the Green Party said experts recommended sedating Freya and taking her away from populated areas or back to the remote Svalbard archipelago. But Bakke-Jensen said that “was not a viable option” because such an operation would have been too complex.

In September last year, Freya was spotted in the Netherlands and swam past Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. Walruses usually live in the more northern stretches of the Arctic. They eat small fish, snails, shrimps and crabs and are not known for attacking people.

People responded shocked and angry about Norway’s decision to kill the walrus. “We have sympathies for the fact that the decision can cause reactions with the public, but I am firm that this was the right call,” Bakke-Jensen said.

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