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Norway: Walrus ‘Freya’ killed by authorities because ‘selfie-hungry’ people won’t stay away from it, wildlife experts outraged

Naturalist Dr Jacquenlyn Gill said, "This sad outcome could absolutely have been avoided if Norway officials had bothered to consult with wildlife experts. As negative human-wildlife interactions increase, we need to be teaching people how to interact safely and respectfully with wildlife."

The hunger for selfies with a glorious marine animal resulted in horrific consequences as the authorities of Norway’s Shetland euthanized the gentle giant 600KG female walrus affectionately called ‘Freya.’ She was the centre of attraction at the Oslo Fjord for almost a month.

Frank Bakke-Jensen, head of Norway’s fisheries directorate, said, “The decision to euthanize was taken on the basis of a global evaluation of the persistent threat to human security.” In the name of “human security,” a completely harmless and beautiful animal was killed just because the Norwegian authorities failed to control the selfie-hungry crowd of tourists.

Frank further added, “We carefully examined all the possible solutions. We concluded that we could not guarantee the wellbeing of the animal by any of the means available.” Interestingly, Norwegian authorities concluded Freya could not be shifted to another place at the time when African nation Malawi successfully relocated 263 wild elephants and 431 additional wildlife to ensure their safety and the safety of people living around them.

Notably, the Norwegian officials had previously pointed out that they were considering euthanasia (a toned-down term for what appeared to be a well-thought murder of a glorious animal) as the public did not adhere to their repeated call to keep distance from Freya.

People refused to stay away from Freya. Source: Orangdre/Twitter

Freya is the name of the Norse goddess of beauty and love. The female walrus that was named after her has been making headlines since July 17, when she was spotted for the first time. Notably, walruses do not travel this far and are often found in the northerly latitudes of the Arctic.

Walruses, a protected species under the local laws, feed on invertebrates such as molluscs, shrimps, crabs, and small fish. It often sleeps for over 20 hours a day. During the four hours that Freya was awake, she was seen chasing ducks, swans, and other birds and animals. For most of the time, Freya was seen sleeping peacefully near the rocks.

Netizens condemned Norway’s decision to kill Freya

As soon as the reports of euthanizing Freya the walrus hit social media, netizens condemned Norway’s decision. Wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham said, “I’ve just heard. The Norwegians have killed ‘Freya’ the walrus. What is wrong with this world right now? Savages. I’m so depressed. We do everything we can to highlight the plight of the natural world and this. Savages. No better here – fox hunting, Geronimo.”

Science writer and author Josh Luke Davis said, “Yeah, so they euthanized Freya, the walrus that had been doing the rounds of the North and Baltic Sea. Apparently, as people kept trying to get too close to take photos, so here’s yet another PSA that getting close to wild animals costs them their lives.”

Political commentator Keith Olbermann said, “Humans at fault, so the animal has to die? Why not forcibly remove the humans? Or, if the humans were putting themselves at risk, let them. If you want to go into the water near Freya, sign a waiver. You get hurt, tough shit. Look around: our species is NOT “better” than hers.”

Phil Demers, also known as Walrus Whisperer, said, “RIP Freya, the walrus. She was euthanized today by the Directorate of Fisheries in Norway because she was perceived as a “continued threat to human safety.” The real threat, of course, proved to be the crowds – and now Freya is dead. Abhorrent and unforgivable. What a tragedy.”

Photographer Greg Sheard had clicked some beautiful photographs of Freya. He wrote, “Freya the Walrus who I photographed earlier this year in Northumberland, has been put down in Oslo, Norway. They deemed Freya a threat because people were getting too close to her. Freya was innocent in all this, the Norwegian authorities should have handled this better.” He added, “When she visited Northumberland, volunteers were ensuring people kept a very safe distance away from her. To get the shots I have, I have a long 600mm lens and a bit of cropping. Why couldn’t the Norwegian authorities do the same and make people keep a safe distance.”

Naturalist Dr Jacquenlyn Gill said, “This sad outcome could absolutely have been avoided if Norway officials had bothered to consult with wildlife experts. As negative human-wildlife interactions increase, we need to be teaching people how to interact safely and respectfully with wildlife.”

Animal advocate and actor Dan Richardson said, “Freya – named after the Norse goddess of beauty & love, but treated by humans with ugliness & indifference. The government of #Norway just killed her. They can add that to the mass whale slaughter they also endorse. Waste of oxygen, all of those involved.”

Journalist Tove Danovich said, “I’m still mad about Freya the walrus. There are so many easy things that could have been tried, and instead, we jumped to killing a wonderful animal who thought she’d found a nice spot to hang out in the sun.”

The authorities had warned the public to stay away from the marine animal for their own safety. However, the selfie-hungry people did not adhere to the instructions and often went too close, sometimes with children. Norway was not the only spot where Freya was seen. Earlier, she was sighted in the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark.

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