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Rock Ptarmigan
Photo: The rock ptarmigan population in Iceland has been rising steadily.

Rock Ptarmigan Numbers Up

The rock ptarmigan population has increased in most parts of the country, Rúv reports. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History released its yearly report on the matter recently, with rock ptarmigan population numbers up in all parts of the country expect South Iceland and East Iceland. Rock ptarmigan numbers are now above average, or average, in all parts of the country.

The estimated total number of ptarmigan in Iceland as of this spring is 173,000. In 2016 the number was 132,000. The most marked increase in rock ptarmigan numbers was in the Westfjords and North West Iceland. The density of male rock ptarmigans was the third highest in the district of Þingeyjarsýsla since measurements began in 1981.

Regular fluctuations in rock ptarmigan numbers last for 10 to 12 years, and the stock was at a high point in 1986 and 1998. Rock ptarmigan are still hunted in Iceland as they are considered a delicacy, often consumed on Christmas Eve. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History claims the preservation status the rock ptarmigan gained in 2003 has helped immensely to restore the numbers. A noticeable decrease in rock ptarmigan hunting has also taken place since 2005, while the hunting permit for this past hunting season allowed for 57,000 ptarmigan to be shot. The hunting takes place for 12 total days, spread over weekends.

Ólafur Karl Nielsen at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History can provide further information on the matter. E-mail: [email protected]

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