Norwegian authorities euthanize popular wild walrus

A walrus who became a beloved trespasser in Norway’s Oslo Fjord was euthanized by authorities on Sunday.

The female walrus, nicknamed Freya, regularly sunbaths around the fjord’s harbors, including on docked boats damaged by their 1,300-pound weight, according to multiple reports.

Since the animal first made headlines in mid-July, onlookers have been flocking to get an up-close look at tourists.

After repeated warnings by the Norwegian Fisheries Agency that the concern could lead to animals being knocked down, the agency said in a news release that it decided to do so on Sunday morning out of concerns for human safety.

“We sympathize with the fact that this decision may have caused a public reaction, but I firmly believe it was the right decision,” said Frank Bakke-Jensen, director-general of fisheries. “We take animal welfare very seriously, but human life and safety must come first.”

The agency said it had explored a way to move Freya, but the complexity of the task led authorities to believe that humanely euthanizing the walrus was the best way forward.

Walruses typically live north of the Arctic Circle and can nap for up to 20 hours a day, although it’s not unheard of for them to venture into the North and Baltic Seas.

A spokesman for the Fisheries Agency told the Guardian on Thursday that the public’s fascination with Freya had disrupted her rest, leading to a decline in the animals’ health.

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