Officials euthanized this wild walrus because of people’s mistakes

Freya the Walrus Was a Local Celebrity. Then Authorities Killed Her.

Norwegian locals and international tourists fell madly in love with Freya the walrus. She made a name for herself by luxuriously sunbathing on boats and piers, lounging around off the coastline of Norway and other European countries, and generally having what social media users termed a “Hot Girl Summer.” A researcher created a Google map to track her hangout spots, while a media outlet put up a 24-hour live camera to broadcast her sleepy antics with the rest of the world. She undertook travel adventures that brought her from Norway to Denmark, the Netherlands, and even the United Kingdom. At one point, she hopped on top of a Dutch submarine and allowed it to escort her for part of her voyage! The crew was so excited, they posted about the encounter on Twitter with clear admiration for her. And then, on August 14, 2022, the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries published a shocking news release. It had killed Freya earlier that morning.

Norwegian authorities claimed they apparently had no choice but to take Freya’s life, because humans refused to stay sufficiently far enough away from her. But how was that Freya’s fault, exactly? Why should she have to pay for these humans’ mistakes — with her life? There was no clear sign that Freya ever had any intention of hurting anyone. Unlike other walruses, she seemed to genuinely enjoy being around people and didn’t appear upset by the attention — certainly she did not display obvious aggressive or hostile behaviors. On top of that, walruses are already vulnerable due to habitat destruction and food supply changes, caused by rapidly-melting sea ice and climate change. While walruses are not yet listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, many experts say walruses deserve this official designation. Yet the Norwegian authorities are killing off these precious creatures anyway. It’s clear that humans were the real culprits here. Sign the petition to demand that the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries create and implement a new policy to never again kill innocent wildlife due to humans’ inability to keep our distance.

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