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ELK

Norway hunter admits to shooting elk in zoo

The hunter in Norway who shot two elk in a zoo a fortnight ago has admitted to police that he killed the animals, but claims he was unaware he was shooting through a fence.

Norway hunter admits to shooting elk in zoo
Two of the elk at Polar Park. Photo: Polar Park
In a formal police interview on Monday, the man admitted to shooting an elk inside an enclosure, a crime which carries a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment. 
 
“The hunter acknowledges that he is guilty of violating of the Wildlife Act in that he shot an elk standing inside the enclosure,” Katrine Grimnes, police superintendent with the police in Målselv, told NRK
 
“He also acknowledges that he may have caused the bullet wounds suffered by the calf, which later had to be euthanized. But he said that he had not at any time seen the calf.” 
 
Grimnes said that the forensic veterinary report backed up this claim, with the bullet appearing to have passed through the body of the bull elk and then on into the calf. 
 
She said that a police visit to the site of the accident backed up the hunter’s claim that the fence was not easy to see. 
 
“We’ve even been on site and we also see that it can be hard to spot the fence, which is partially hidden by vegetation,” Grimnes said.
 
Heinz Strathmann, the chief executive of Polar Park, told The Local that while he accepted the shooting had been an accident, he struggled to see the hunter as completely blameless. 
 
“What I know is that the fence is a metal fence and it’s four metres high. If you couldn’t see it, there must have been a lot of trees, and if there are a lot of trees you shouldn’t shoot,” he said. “I’m a hunter myself and I don’t shoot if there are a lot of trees.”  
 
He said that the adult elk, which was born in the park, had been one and a half years old, while the calf was born in the spring. 
 
“We were at first very surprised, and we are sad about it, of course,” he said. “The animals we have, we know them closely and we have a relationship with them. If you lose two of your close animals you are more than sad.” 
 
But he said the zoo was not concerned about whether the hunter was punished. 
 
“My first thoughts were not about revenge. The police are handling the case, and if they find out that he’s done something illegal, they will probably give him quite a fine, but that's not my main concern. My main concern is that two of our animals died in a tragic accident. I don’t think this was done intentionally.”

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ELK

Why rare white elk can be spotted in Norway’s forests

Many hunters in Norway choose not to set their sights on the rare white elk, meaning the genetic factor that produces it can thrive.

Why rare white elk can be spotted in Norway’s forests
The white elk is so rare in Norway that we don't have a photo of it. Photo: Dick Millet/Unsplash

The light-coloured variant of the animal is an unusual sight in the wild in Norway and is therefore protected in some areas near the Swedish border where hunting is permitted.

In turn, the chance of sighting a white elk is higher in these localities, according to a report by broadcaster NRK, which cited local residents as saying they regularly observe white elk.

White elk are not white due to albinism but because of a recessive gene.

“An elk being is white is similar to us humans having blue eyes. There are many of us with blue eyes here in the Nordic countries, but it is due to a factor known in technical terms as recessivity. This means that this gene is easily repressed and not dominant. Even if the mother is white, there is a very small probability that the calf will be too,” Göran Ericsson, a professor in natural ecology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, told NRK.

“It is a pigment deficiency, but in contrast to albinism these white elk are exactly the same as other elk. Classical albinism often affects other things and (individuals) don’t have as much chance of surviving or reproducing,” he also explained.

 

Although the genetics which produce the white elk are recessive, consensus over avoiding hunting elk of this particular colour may result in a higher prevalence of the recessive gene, including in regular elk.

Knut Arne Gjems, leader of the Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers (Norges Jeger- og Fiskerforbund), described the protection of the white elk by hunters as a “curiosity”.

“The (white) elk is not protected because it has a different colour as such, but there are several local landowners who choose to protect the white elk anyway. It's good take care of them as a curiosity,” he told NRK.

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