Visiting Polar Bears Will Probably Be Shot - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Visiting Polar Bears Will Probably Be Shot

Published March 17, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
Wikimedia Commons

There remains no plan of action and no tranquillisers available in the event of a polar bear making its way to Iceland’s shores, reports RÚV.

As it stands, one veterinarian in the country is certified to shoot a tranquilliser gun, Hjörtur Magnason. Hjörtur has all the necessary equipment, save the actual tranquillisers necessary to subdue any would be visitors.

Back in 2008, two polar bears made their way to Iceland in the span of two weeks and in both cases the bears were shot dead despite efforts to sedate the second bear and ship it to Copenhagen Zoo. The events prompted the creation of the Reykjavík Polar Bear Project aimed at protecting the endangered species in the event another bear made its way to the island.

“[If another polar bear came to Iceland] it would turn into a farce,” said Hjörtur. “People don’t know what to do. These are dangerous predators. So it’s probably for the best to just to kill them with a gun.”

While it is true that polar bears are dangerous predators, it is worth mentioning that the last recorded death in Iceland at the hands of a polar bear was in 1321. Admittedly, that particular bear was on a spree, killed about 8 people.


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