Freya became a sensation on social media this summer, Roon Aye, who teaches biology at the University of Southeastern Norway and manages a Google map of Freya sightings, told CNN. The young female walrus had been spending time in the Oslo Fjord on the country’s southeast coast and, unlike most walruses, was not afraid of humans. Several popular videos show walruses boarding small boats to sunbathe.
Last week, the directorate warned the public to stay away from Freya, saying they noticed visitors swimming with her, throwing objects at her and getting dangerously close to her to take photos. “The public has ignored the current recommendation to keep a clear distance to walruses,” Norwegian Fisheries Directorate spokeswoman Nadia Jataini told CNN in an email.
Earlier, the directorate told CNN it was considering several solutions, including relocating Freya from the fjord. But, “the extensive complexity of such an operation led to the conclusion that this was not a viable option,” Bakke-Jensen said in the news release.
“We sympathize with the public’s reaction to this decision, but I’m sure it was the right call,” Bucke-Jensen continued. “We have the utmost respect for animal welfare, but human life and safety must take priority.” The directorate included a photo of a large crowd within feet of Freya in its release.
In general, marine mammals are wary of humans and tend to stay on the outer edges of Norway’s coastline.. A, a biology professor who tracks sightings of Freya, said the last time a walrus was documented south in the North Sea was in 2013. “It’s not common,” he said – leading to a crowd of Norwegians flocking to see Freya.
“Normally, walruses appear on some islands, but they quickly leave because they are afraid of people,” Aae said.
But Freya “isn’t afraid of people,” he said. “Actually, I think she likes people. That’s why she didn’t leave.”
He wrote that Freya “sooner or later would have left Oslofjord, as all previous experience shows, so euthanasia is in my view completely unnecessary.”
“What a shame!”
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