No Restrictions Imposed on This Season's Ptarmigan Hunt Skip to content

No Restrictions Imposed on This Season’s Ptarmigan Hunt

By Ragnar Tómas

Rock ptarmigan
Photo: Golli.

The ptarmigan hunting season starts today and continues until November 21. Hunting is permitted every day except Wednesdays and Thursdays, with no set limits on the number of ptarmigans hunters can shoot. A ptarmigan hunter from Egilsstaðir told RÚV that weather conditions have been challenging on the first day of hunting.

Ptarmigan hunting season begins

The ptarmigan hunting season starts today and will continue until November 21. Although the ptarmigan population has trended upward since last year, the Environment Agency of Iceland advises hunters to hunt responsibly. The agency’s hunting guidelines remain consistent with past years: hunting is allowed from Friday to Tuesday, from October 20 to November 21.

RÚV reports that this year’s ptarmigan hunting is based on comprehensive scientific data, utilizing a model that incorporates nearly two decades of data. This research suggests that the ptarmigan population can endure 25 hunting days without falling below the average count of these years. Unlike previous seasons where hunters were advised to limit their catch to three to six ptarmigans, no such restrictions have been set this year.

Bjarni Jónasson, the team leader of Wildlife Management at the Environment Agency of Iceland, told RÚV that the population has grown by 33% compared to last year. While there are regional variations, the overall outlook is positive. Nonetheless, he reiterates the importance of hunting with moderation.

Weather conditions not ideal

RÚV also spoke to Þórhallur Borgarsson, a ptarmigan hunter from Egilsstaðir, who begins preparing his Christmas meal in May by collecting birch twigs to season the ptarmigans. He was not in a rush to start hunting this morning, speaking to RÚV from his job at the Egilsstaðir Airport.

“Given the current weather conditions, it’s not ideal for ptarmigan hunting. It’s windy out, so the bird is likely tucked away tightly, probably among the rocks,” Þórhallur stated. He also noted that there was no snowline yet. “So, the birds are dispersed and somewhat challenging to find; they don’t fly until you’re nearly stepping on them. They’re very stubborn in this kind of weather and hard to locate,” he added.

Despite this, Þórhallur maintained that there was an abundance of birds in the area, having observed them during his reindeer guiding and sheep herding activities. Þórhallur expressed moderate satisfaction with the structure of this hunting season. “Yes, people will get their Christmas meal; I’m not particularly concerned about that.” He does believe, however, that it would have been more sensible if the hunting season was continuous, affording hunters more flexibility in choosing the weather conditions for their hunts.

The sale ban on ptarmigans remains in effect, and it is prohibited to export, offer for sale, or sell ptarmigans and ptarmigan products.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!