Norwegian authorities on Sunday killed a 1,300-pound walrus named Freya, who had been climbing boats and lounging on piers off the coast of Oslo in recent weeks, saying moving her was “too big a risk”.
“In the end we saw no other options,” said Olav Lekver, a spokesman for the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries. “She was in an area that wasn’t natural to her.”
Mr. Lekver said that walruses needed a lot of rest and that people were bothering Freya by swimming with her and taking pictures of her. The Oslofjord is busy in summer with swimmers, water sports enthusiasts and other water recreationists. Walruses are social animals and rarely venture anywhere alone, which may have been why Freya had spent time in a densely populated area.
Management had repeatedly warned people to stay away from the animal, but they mostly didn’t listen, Mr Lekver said. Authorities warned last week that Freya faced the prospect of being killed if they failed to convince onlookers to stay away.
Freya became a threat to human security, Mr. Lekver, adding, “She chased people on paddleboards and kayaks.”
He did not specify how Freya was killed, but said it was “according to the regulations”.
Freya was spotted off the coasts of Britain and several European countries for at least two years, including the Netherlands and Denmark.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, about 225,000 walruses live in the wild. They live in ice-covered waters in Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and Alaska.
In their usual habitat, walruses drag themselves on ice shelves. In Freya’s case, she hoisted herself on piers and boats. Some ice caps are melting due to climate change, causing walruses to lose some of their habitat.
“Many other options should have been tried before she killed her,” said Rune Aae, a biologist at the University of Southeast Norway who had tracked Freya’s movement on a Google map to help people know when to stay away from her. . In a Facebook post on Sunday, he called the decision to kill her “too hasty.”
“Freya had come out of the Oslofjord sooner or later, as all previous experiences have shown, so euthanasia was completely unnecessary in my opinion,” he wrote.