Norway considers euthanising walrus that won hearts in Oslo fjord

Norwegian authorities are considering putting down a walrus that won hearts basking in the sun of the Oslo fjord, amid fears it is putting itself and the public in danger.

Norway considers euthanising walrus that won hearts in Oslo fjord
Illustration photo of a walrus. Norway is considering putting down a walrus that has been spotted regularly in Oslo fjord this summer, citing possible danger to the public. Photo by Romy Vreeswijk on Unsplash

Despite repeated appeals to the public to keep their distance from the walrus — a young female weighing 600 kilos (1,300 pounds) that has been nicknamed Freya — the mammal continues to attract big crowds, the Fisheries Directorate said in a statement on Thursday.

Its text was accompanied by a photograph of a group of onlookers crowding near the animal.

“The public’s reckless behaviour and failure to follow authorities’ recommendations could put lives in danger”, a spokeswoman for the fisheries agency, Nadia Jdaini, said.

“We are now exploring other measures, and euthanasia may be a real alternative”, she added.

Freya, whose name is a reference to the Norse goddess of beauty and love, has made headlines since July 17th when she was first spotted in the waters of the Norwegian capital.

Walruses normally lives in the even more northerly latitudes of the Arctic.

Between long naps — a walrus can sleep up to 20 hours a day — Freya has been filmed chasing a duck, attacking a swan and, more often than not, dozing on boats struggling to support her bulk.

Despite the recommendations, some curious onlookers have continued to approach her, sometimes with children in tow, to take photographs.

“Her health has clearly declined. The walrus is not getting enough rest and the experts we have consulted now suspect that the animal is stressed,” Jdaini said.

A protected species, walruses normally eat molluscs, small fish, shrimps and crabs. 

While they don’t normally attack people, they can if they feel threatened, according to authorities.

Member comments

  1. Ridiculous to euthanize a walrus because some persons use poor judgement, even putting their children at risk. Why doesn’t the local authority corden off the area and let only people who live/boat in that area in? Why don’t they relocate Freya? If she is not eating well, why don’t the local authorities provide her with her natural diet? There must be plenty of fishermen/fisheries that have extra shrimp, crab, molluscs, small fish. Besides the fact that Freya is a sentient being, she is protected.

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How a new energy tax could impact public spending in Oslo and Bergen 

A new energy tax proposed by the Norwegian government could significantly reduce the public spending powers of the city councils in Oslo and Bergen.

How a new energy tax could impact public spending in Oslo and Bergen 

Earlier this week, the government unveiled plans for new taxes on fish farming and energy production. The basic interest tax on hydropower will be increased from 37 to 45 per cent if proposals are given the green light by parliament.

“The community needs greater income in the coming years so that we can together protect good welfare for all. After many years of increased inequality, it is absolutely necessary that those who have the most, and in many cases have received significantly more in recent years, contribute more,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said at a press conference. 

Bergen and Oslo may lose out on income as a new energy tax will hit the bottom lines of electricity companies owned by local authorities in Oslo and Bergen. In turn, this may affect the municipal budgets of both cities. 

Power firm Eviny estimates that it will have to pay an extra 2.5 billion kroner in tax in 2022 due to the government’s proposal for a tax increase for farming companies and electricity companies, Bergensavisen reports. Bergen Municipality holds 37.75 percent stake in Eviny. 

“We have no idea the extent of these changes yet, but we must expect the yield to be reduced. The uncertainty is a disturbing element in our budget planning,” Per-Arne Larsen, finance councillor with Bergen Municipality, told Bergenavisen. 

In Oslo, the city council could feel the squeeze of the tax rule even more than in Bergen, as Oslo Municipality owns energy firm Hafslund in full. 

Oslo City Council depends on its energy firm’s income to fund public spending. Finance councillor Einar Wilhelmsen told newspaper Avisa Oslo that if the proposed tax increase goes through, the municipality would need to rip up its budget for 2023 and start over. 

Next week will see the state budget for 2023 announced. Municipalities will be waiting to see how much the government is willing to allocate to local authorities- as this may offset losses from the new energy tax. 

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