Iceland’s puffin population has hit such low numbers that hunting the birds has sparked strong criticism.
The Nature Office of South Iceland has released their findings of a detailed puffin census conducted around the country. Of the dozen nestings areas that were inspected, all of them showed a sharp decline in the number of young puffins.
“The Nature Office of South Iceland condemns the decision made by the Westman Islands town council to allow for the hunting of puffins for five days this summer,” their statement concludes. “The office considers hunting puffins in these conditions to be unsustainable and unethical.”
As reported, the puffin population has been on the decline for at least the past 12 years. A contributing cause of the decline has been the warming of the ocean around Iceland, prompting herring – the puffin’s main food source – to leave the waters.
“We see a warming-up period [around Iceland] about every 70 years or so,” Erpur Snær Hansen, a doctor of biology told reporters. “This decreases herring populations, which is the main source of food for puffins. We are experiencing one of these warming-up periods now, in addition to temperature changes in the sea caused by human activity. But the oceans should cool again by 2030, so it’s a question of whether the puffin can hang in there until then.”
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