An Icelander argues in his master’s thesis that the Icelandic government broke the law when it killed two polar bears who arrived in the country in the summer of 2008.
Húni Hallson, who is pursuing his law degree, told RÚV that the government broke a law protecting the rights of wild animals at that time, and that there is no legal framework for dealing with polar bears who arrive in the country.
Polar bears are not native to Iceland and rarely visit. When they do, it is typically via ice flow from north of the country.
A polar bear appeared in the northeast of Iceland earlier this year, near the town of Þistilfjörður. Police and the Environmental Agency of Iceland searched for the bear, but it was shot and killed by a farmer later that day. The bear was then skinned, and the body sent south for study.
The matter caused some degree of controversy with regards to how to best to deal with polar bear visits. On the one hand, polar bears are dangerous, it is argued, and people should be able to do what they can to defend themselves and their livestock. On the other hand, they are an endangered species, and more should be done to ensure a safe relocation for the bear, conservationists say.
Before you find yourself in a situation where you are near a polar bear, you should read Grapevine’s “How to Fight a Polar Bear” for all the pertinent information you will need. SPOILERS: Polar bears are frightened off pretty easily by loud noises, provided you’re far enough away.