Ptarmigan Hunting Unsustainable - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Ptarmigan Hunting Unsustainable

Published October 14, 2014

Main photo by
Jan Frode Haugseth

An ecologist for The Icelandic Institute of Natural History (IINH) has released a report on ptarmigans, with one conclusion being that hunting them is unsustainable.

Bæjarins Bestu reports that the ptarmigan population in Iceland has been on the rise, as have the number of nesting areas. At the same time, IINH ecologist Ólafur K. Nielsen advises hunters and lawmakers alike to use caution where the birds are concerned. He points out that the population is still under the 50-year average, the population increase should only continue for another two or three years, and the birds could disappear from Iceland altogether if the current trend continues.

Despite the fact that last year, the number of ptarmigan hunting days were reduced from 47 to just 12, ptarmigan hunting is still unsustainable. Other precautions, such as banning the sale of ptarmigan meat and limiting the legal hunting area, have helped to slow down the decline but have not stopped it.

Ptarmigan hunters are advised to hunt only enough birds for themselves, and to be careful not to wound any other birds in the process.

Ptarmigans are traditionally served at Christmas time in Iceland, although depleting stocks and tighter hunting restrictions have made them increasingly less common with holiday meals.

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