Freya became a social media sensation this summer, Rune Aae, who teaches biology at the University of Southeast Norway and runs a Google map of Freya sightings, told CNN. The young female walrus had spent time in the Oslofjord, an inlet on the southeast coast of the country, and apparently was not afraid of humans, unlike most walruses. Several popular videos show the walrus clambering onto small boats to bask.
In the past week, the directorate warned the public to stay away from Freya after seeing visitors swimming with Freya, throwing objects at her and getting dangerously close to her to take pictures. “The public has disregarded the current recommendation to keep a clear distance from the walrus,” Nadia Jdaini, spokesman for the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, told CNN in an email.
Earlier, the directorate told CNN it was considering multiple solutions, including moving Freya out of the fjord. But “the extensive complexity of such an operation led us to conclude that it was not a viable option,” Bakke-Jensen said in the press release.
“We are sympathetic to the fact that the decision may cause reactions from the public, but I am convinced that it was the right decision,” continued Bakke-Jensen. “We have great respect for animal welfare, but human lives and safety must come first.” When released, the directorate included a photo of a large crowd apparently standing just a few feet away from Freya.
Usually the marine mammals are wary of humans and stay on the outer edges of the Norwegian coast. Aae, the biology professor who follows Freya sightings, said the last time a walrus was documented this far south in the North Sea was in 2013. “It’s not common at all,” he said — leading to crowds of Norwegians flocking to it. to see Freya.
“Normally, walruses will appear on some islands, but they will leave quite quickly, because they are afraid of humans,” Aae said.
But Freya “is not afraid of people,” he said. “Actually, I think she likes people. That’s why she’s not leaving.’
Freya would have “sooner or later come out of the Oslofjord, as all previous experiences have shown, so euthanasia was completely unnecessary in my opinion,” he wrote.
“What a pity!”