Polar Bear Shot in Northwest Iceland Skip to content

Polar Bear Shot in Northwest Iceland

A polar bear was shot and killed in Northwest Iceland Saturday night, according to Vísir.

The animal, a female, was detected by Karítas Guðrúnardóttir and her husband Egill Þór Bjarnason, farmers who were on a riding tour north of the town Blönduós at about 11 pm Saturday night.

“This is strange, because of course there is no ice in the middle of summer,” Karítas remarked. She thinks it’s possible the animal has possibly swum to shore. Ocean currents in this area are reportedly strong.

The couple reacted quickly by bringing their children into the farmhouse. Then they called a friend who is a skilled shooter. They also notified police, who warned farmers in the area. The bear was killed with one shot from a 130 m distance, according to mbl.is.

The carcass was picked up and put in refrigeration on Skagaströnd. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History will receive the carcass and dissect it.

Kristján Þorbjörnsson, chief superintendent in Sauðárkrókur, stated there was never any doubt the animal would have to be shot, mbl.is reports. “Never any doubt. An inhabited area was close by.” He noted that the closest farm was only a few hundred meters away, and tourists had camped within a kilometer.

Kristján finds it unlikely that polar bears which make it to Iceland will be caught alive, but in order for that to happen, numerous conditions must be met. A draft has existed for a few years regarding how a polar bear could be caught alive, but it has neither been completed nor financed.

For such a plan to work, an animal must be monitored by police, and police must determine there is no danger from the animal; neither people nor livestock can be near, visibility must be good, and a helicopter must be available.

The plan was to sedate a polar bear which came to the country in June of 2008. A Danish specialist was brought to sedate the animal. A special polar bear cage had also been brought to the country. The Dane failed to get a good shot, and the bear was killed as it went back to shore, for fear people would lose sight of it.

Lilja Kristín Árnadóttir, who heads the Environment Agency of Iceland, claims it’s out of the question to try to capture an animal as was attempted in 2008, until numerous conditions needed are in place. A plan is needed about where the animal should be sent, housing must be available for keeping it, specially trained people are needed, as well as a person trained to shoot from a helicopter.

The cage that was meant to be used in 2008 is still in the country and so is the gun meant to use for sedation, but Kristín believes the sedatives have expired.

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