Independence Party Takes Aim Against Reykjavík Seagulls

seagulls iceland

In a bid to protect both human and animal life within Reykjavík, city councilor for the Independence Party Kjartan Magnússon has submitted a proposal to take action against seagulls.

Critiquing the birds’ aggression and dominance at Tjörnin, the Reykjavík city pond, Kjartan stated to RÚV: “Some use the analogy that the seagull is like a flying rat. I don’t want to speak so strongly, but I understand the analogy well when you see them among the ducks and ducklings here at the pond.”

Concretely, the proposal aims to heighten Reykjavík’s gull-deterrent capabilities by firing warning shots to scare the gulls, increasing signage to not feed the birds.

The proposal is only the latest flashpoint in Reykjavík’s fraught history in human-seabird relations.

In 2007, some 60-70 seagulls were anaesthetized in the capital area. The gulls were tranquilized with drug-laced breadcrumbs and then given lethal injections. However, the initiative came under critique for being unscientific and unethical. Additionally, the initiative was shown to be ineffective, with a cost of ISK 17.000 per bird, and an unclear, if any, impact on the gull population.



Low Air Quality Attributed to Sand

air quality iceland

Air quality in the capital region has been poor due to the concentration of sand particulates from South Iceland, announced the City of Reykjavík yesterday.

According to the Meteorological Office of Iceland, the source of the sand particulates is a sandstorm on the South Coast, from high winds in the last days.

Those with respiratory sensitivities and small children are asked to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities if they feel any difficulty breathing or other discomfort.

At 12.00 yesterday, August 29, the particulate concentration at Grensásvegur was measured at 121 micrograms per cubic meter, and 272 micrograms at Háaleitisbraut. Guidelines for 24-hour health protection limits recommend PM10 (denoting particulates with diameters of 10 micrometers) concentrations no higher than 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

Those wanting to monitor the air quality in real-time can do so through the Environmental Agency of Iceland.

Scrapie-Resistant Sheep to Enter Market this Fall

sheep breeding iceland

Up to 15 rams with scrapie-resistant genes will be sold for breeding this fall. Bred in Reyðarfjörður in East Iceland, the sheep carry a special gene and it is hoped that they will help form a more resilient stock in Iceland.

The gene, called ARR, is not found anywhere else in Iceland. It has been recognised internationally as scrapie-resistant, and herds with the ARR gene have already been bred in Europe for some two decades.

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease found in sheep and goats, the ovine equivalent of mad cow disease. There is no cure, and even one case of scrapie can be a death sentence for an entire agricultural community. If a sheep tests positive for scrapie, the entire herd is culled, the entire farm’s hay must be destroyed, and the entire farm and its implements must be sanitised, either chemically or through fire. Even after this deep-cleaning, farmers are not able to raise sheep for a set time, and the scorched-earth policy may even affect neighboring herds and farms.

After the ARR gene was found out East, an effort was made to breed the gene into the stock as much as possible. There are now some 50 total rams that carry the gene.

Steinn Björnsson, a farmer in Reyðarfjörður, has said that the rams are expected to go for a modest amount. In an interview with RÚV, he stated “after all, sheep farmers have so little money that they would never be able to buy this if they were any more expensive.”

In a recent statement on their website, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority has designated priority zones for the resistant stock. With only a small supply of the so-called “golden rams,” the stock is to be used as effectively as possible, with farming communities recently affected by scrapie and with herds of 300 or more given first priority.

For the full story on the fight against scrapie and the efforts to breed this new, resistant stock, read more in our article: Good Breeding.