Norway: the tragic death of Freya the walrus
22 August 2022
Freya, a five-year-old, 600-kilogram walrus who spent the summer lounging on boats and docks in the Oslo fjord, inadvertently becoming a summer attraction for onlookers, tourists and residents, has been killed by Norwegian authorities, who say she posed a threat to human safety.
Norway’s fisheries directorate said the decision to euthanise the walrus came after the public ignored repeated warnings to keep their distance from Freya. A sad reminder that our actions can have dramatic consequences for wildlife: animals are not here to entertain us and their need for space must be respected.
In recent months, Freya had also been spotted along the coasts of several European countries, including Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands, without ever causing any problems.
Walruses normally live in the ice-covered waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and Alaska.They usually rest on the sea ice between feeding episodes but as the climate warms, melting sea ice is forcing the walruses to rest on land more often, taking them away from their traditional fishing habitats.
Our Norwegian member Dyrevernalliansen is infinitely sad that the decision was made to euthanise Freya because of human behaviour:
Nature is in crisis because of us, but we do not seem to care, the government has decided that there is no room for Freya in Norwegian waters”.
Siri Martinsen, veterinarian and director of the Norwegian animal welfare organisation NOAH, said:
Freya was an endangered animal, she was on the Norwegian red list of vulnerable (or threatened) animals and the killing could only be justified in an emergency situation or for animal welfare reasons, which was not the case here.”
The walrus is a species protected under the Appendix II of the Bern Convention meaning that it is a strictly protected wildlife species. Norway has ratified the Bern Convention and, according to Article 6 of the Convention, must take all appropriate and necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure the protection of such species. Given the importance of protecting wildlife in the biodiversity crisis we face, Norway should have investigated more to find an appropriate solution to ensure the protection of the walrus and people.