A 1,300-Pound Walrus Could Be Killed if She Endangers the Public

Norway has warned it may have to kill a walrus named Freya out of concern that the 1,300-pound animal could harm gleeful onlookers, who were unable to get away from her during a visit. her summer to the shores of the country.

Vegard Oen Hatten, a spokesman for the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, told The New York Times on Friday that people swam up to Freya, threw objects at her and took pictures, sometimes with their children. The agency has warned people to stay away from the walrus, but if that doesn’t work, “has the potential to green light a controlled operation to bring down the animal,” said Mr Hatten.

There are other possible solutions, including moving Freya out of the area, he added, noting that killing Freya would be a “last resort”. No final decision yet.

“She’s not aggressive,” says Rune Aae, who teaches biology at Southeastern Norwegian University and regularly updates it. a Google map of Freya . sightings. “But if she wants to play with you, you lose, no matter what.”

For Freya, there seemed to be no urgent reason to leave. Mr. Aae said she had plenty of food in the form of scallops and mussels, and she was too young, at 5, to give birth to a calf. Female walruses usually give birth around the age of 9 or 10, and the animals can live to be about 40 years old.

“She is having a great time on vacation here,” Mr. Aae said.

Walruses are social animals and rarely venture out alone, which may be why Freya seems to enjoy being around people.

“She is not afraid of us,” Mr. Aae said. “She probably thinks we’re her pack.”

Freya has been spotted off the coasts of England and various European countries, including the Netherlands and Denmark, for at least two years.

Mr Hatten, a spokesman, said: “This is a unique situation. “This is the first time an animal has been out of its natural habitat for so long.”

Experts suggest that Freya is on her way back north, where she belongs. But finding her way can be tricky, because the Oslo Fjord, where she was most recently spotted, is a dead end on the way north. To get home, she must first head back south, down Denmark to England, before heading back north.

“She had to come back, and so far, she hasn’t,” said Mr Aae. “She didn’t have a map, she didn’t know it was a dead end.”

It is not entirely unusual for a walrus to appear in Northern Europe and similar incidents have occurred before. Dan Jarvis, conservation and welfare director for British Divers Marine Life Rescue, says most years at least one walrus can be spotted in European waters.

Last year, another walrus, Wally, appeared off the southwest coast of England for about six weeks and climbed into the boat in a the busy area of ​​the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago of more than 150 large and small islands. Local officials provided him with a floating dock to lie on, as he destroyed his roughly 1,760-pound boats. There, people got too close and took pictures with him, causing potentially dangerous situations and leading to call for his removal.

“He’s going to be as busy as he can be,” Mr. Jarvis said.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, there are about 225,000 walruses in the wild. They live in the ice-covered waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and Alaska. In their normal habitat, walruses pull themselves up onto ice sheets. In Freya’s case, she’s carrying herself onto the jetty and boat. The hippocampus is affected by climate change in the form of melting ice sheets, causing them to lose some of that habitat.

If that continues, Mr. Jarvis said, “they’ll have to search further to find somewhere suitable.”

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