Nature

Norway kills Freya the walrus that drew crowds

BERLIN (AP) — Norwegian authorities have euthanized a walrus that drew crowds of onlookers to the Oslo Fjord after concluding it posed a risk to humans.

The 600-kilogram (1,320-pound) female walrus, affectionately known as Freya, has become a popular attraction in Norway in recent weeks, despite warnings from authorities that people should refrain from approaching and pose for photos with the huge marine mammal. Freya liked to climb on small boats, causing damage to them.

The walruses are protected, and as recently as last month officials said they hoped Freya would leave of her own accord and euthanasia would be a last resort.

The Norwegian Fisheries Directorate said Freya was shot early on Sunday “based on an overall assessment of the continued threat to human security”.

“Through on-site observations last week, it was made clear that the public has been disregarding the current recommendation to keep a clear distance from walrus,” he said. “Therefore, Management concluded that the possibility of potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained.”

Chief executive Frank Bakke-Jensen said other options, including moving the animal elsewhere, were being considered. But authorities concluded that was not a viable option.

“We have sympathy that the decision may provoke a reaction from the public, but I am convinced that it was the right decision,” Bakke-Jensen said. “We have great respect for animal welfare, but human life and safety must come first.”

Atlantic walruses normally live in the Arctic. It is unusual but not unheard of that they travel in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Another walrus, nicknamed Wally, was seen last year on beaches and even on a rescue dock in Wales and elsewhere.


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