SHARE
COPY LINK

OSLO

Walrus that attracted crowds in Oslo fjord euthanised

A walrus nicknamed Freya that attracted crowds while basking in the Oslo fjord was euthanised on Sunday, with Norway officials saying it was the only option but experts slamming an "infinitely sad" decision.

A walrus rests on the shore of the Borebukta Bay
Photo of a walrus on the shore of the Borebukta Bay, located at the northwestern side of Isfjorden, in Svalbard Archipelago, northern Norway, to where some experts had suggested returning 'Freya', the Oslo walrus. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

“The decision to euthanise was taken on the basis of a global evaluation of the persistent threat to human security,” the head of Norway’s Fisheries Directorate Frank Bakke-Jensen said in a statement.

“We carefully examined all the possible solutions. We concluded that we could not guarantee the wellbeing of the animal by any of the means available,” he said.

Officials had previously said they were considering euthanasia because repeated appeals to the public to keep their distance from the young female weighing 600 kilograms (1,300 pounds) had been in vain and that she was
experiencing excessive stress.

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

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

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

Despite repeated appeals, curious onlookers continued to approach the mammal, sometimes with children in tow, to take photographs.

‘Incredibly sad’

Experts said the decision to euthanise Freya did not take into account the animal’s wellbeing.

Siri Martinsen, a spokeswoman for animal rights group NOAH, told TV2 television that it was a rushed measure and that fines should have been issued to disperse the onlookers.

“It’s very shocking,” she added, saying it was an 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.

The Green Party earlier this week said experts recommended giving Freya sedatives and taking her away from populated areas, or taking her back to the remote Svalbard archipelago.

But Bakke-Jensen said that “was not a viable option” because such an operation would be too complex.

Freya, estimated to be around five years old, had already been sighted in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden and chose to spend part of the summer in Norway.

Freya first gained notoriety in Norway by climbing onto pleasure boats in Kragero, an idyllic southern coastal village.

The walrus is a protected species that feeds mainly on invertebrates such as molluscs, shrimps, crabs and small fish.

Walruses do not normally behave aggressively towards humans, but they can feel threatened by intruders and attack.

An operation this week to save a beluga stranded in France’s Seine river also ended with the animal dying.

 
 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ENERGY

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. 

READ ALSO: How much money do I need to live in Bergen?

SHOW COMMENTS