Controversy Arises Over Reindeer Hunting Licenses - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Controversy Arises Over Reindeer Hunting Licenses

Published May 12, 2011

The idea of offering reindeer hunting licenses to the highest bidder – instead of for a fixed price – has caused a stir among Iceland’s hunters over public ownership of natural resources.
By law, reindeer cannot be “owned” by any individual or company; they are considered natural resources and therefore in public ownership. Licenses to hunt reindeer are available to both the general public and tourists alike, but Vísir reports that two university students from Akureyri have come to the conclusion that it would be possible to get far more revenue from reindeer hunting by making the licenses available to those offering the most money for them.
Elvar Árni Lund, the director of the Icelandic hunting society Skotvís, finds the idea to run counter to the spirit of hunting. He believes that hunting reindeer ought to be a right that the general public is entitled to.
While the reindeer population in Iceland continues to grow, the number of licenses issued is limited, however, and Elvar believes Icelanders should have the advantage. “Up until now the price should not increase at all,” he said, “but should rather be a local privilege that all Icelandic hunters should be entitled to.”
Hunter Magnús Ársælsson said that the notion of making hunting licenses available to the highest bidder would lock out a lot of his colleagues who simply would not be able to afford them.
“University students in Akureyri say that the general public shouldn’t complain,” he said, “because we can always sell the licenses to foreigners, bank managers, CEOs and venture capitalists. They shouldn’t make reindeer hunting a posh activity for foreigners; it should be available for the general Icelandic public.”

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