Iceland's Policy Of Killing Polar Bears Harshly Criticised - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Policy Of Killing Polar Bears Harshly Criticised

Published September 15, 2016

Photos by
Arturo de Frias Marques/Wikimedia Commons

A doctor and former assistant professor at Yale has called Iceland’s practice of immediately killing polar bears who land here unjustifiable, and the arguments in favour of killing polar bears do not hold up to scrutiny.

In a column sent to Fréttablaðið, Dr. Birgir Guðjónsson takes special exception with the Icelandic government; in particular, the Environment Agency of Iceland. He says that Iceland’s policy of killing polar bears on site should be a cause of grave concern to the Agency.

“The Environment Agency of Iceland has never tried, in an organised manner, to make preparations for saving animals who land here,” he writes in part. No one wants to rescue the polar bears, he says; there are only “officials who recommend killing and ‘scientists’ who welcome every dead body and proudly proclaim that it’s just like the last one.”

The idea that polar bears must be shot on sight before they attack humans or livestock also does not hold up to scrutiny, he says. Birgir points out that even in places like Churchill, Canada, where polar bears are regular visitors, they are shot with tranquiliser darts, captured, and shipped off far from the human population centre.

Due in large part to climate change, polar bears are classified as “vulnerable”, and their numbers have been falling.

“I agree with this so much,” former Reykjavík mayor and longtime polar bear advocate Jón Gnarr wrote on Facebook about Birgir’s column. “I just don’t understand this barbaric policy of ours towards polar bears. When these poor things land here, we are always just as unprepared and hysterical, scrambling to kill the animal.”


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