Norwegian official and wife receive death threats after walrus euthanasia

The director of Norway’s fisheries agency and his wife, who does not work for the agency, have received death threats from across the world following a decision to euthanise a walrus that took up residence in Oslo harbour.

Norwegian official and wife receive death threats after walrus euthanasia
An official and his wife received threats on social media after a decision by authorities to euthanise a popular walrus that has been repeatedly sighted in Oslo Harbour this summer. Photo by Woubishet Z. Taffese on Unsplash

The walrus, nicknamed Freya, attracted crowds while basking in the Oslo fjord this summer but was euthanised on Sunday.

Officials said it was the only option after determining they could not “guarantee the wellbeing of the animal”.

Experts criticised an “infinitely sad” decision, however.

READ ALSO: Walrus that attracted crowds in Oslo fjord euthanised

The head of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, Frank Bakke-Jensen, received death threats from Norway and all over the world on Monday after the decision to put down the walrus was reported, broadcaster NRK reported.

Bakke-Jensen’s wife, Hilde Sjurelv, was also the target of threats according to the report.

“It’s completely fine not to agree, but making death threats is going too far. That’s going too far,” Sjurelv told NRK.

Sjurelv has received abuse based on both who she is and her appearance but cited the death threats as the worst of the messages. Several of the messages have been seen by NRK, the broadcaster writes.

“I was shaken and scared when unpleasant messages and comments began pouring in on my phone,” Sjurelv said.

“This is about an issue I have nothing to do with, apart from being married to Frank,” she said.

“I think many people from different countries can express their view but they should limit it to disagreeing and not make direct death threats,” she said.

She has now made her Facebook profile private, she said.

Bakke-Jensen said he would report the threats to police.

“I have no problem receiving complaints or objections about my job to me personally. But I think it’s way over the line to contact my family. But that has unfortunately become part of everyday life,” he told NRK.

“My own safety is taken care of, so I’m not too concerned about that. This is an issue that has been very emotive and that can set off a lot of irrational forces, so we get examples like this,” he said.

The director of the Fisheries agency said he did not think he or his wife would be in need of added security.

“I will do as I have done before, save and send on to the police, and their experts will assess it,” he said.

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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. 

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