A young adult walrus recently took up residence in Oslo harbour after previously visiting the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark. She attracted crowds of onlookers and made free with various boats, which she mainly used as somewhere to sleep.
She had come to be named Freya, after the Norse goddess of love and beauty.
On 14 August 2022, the head of the fisheries directorate announced that she had been ‘euthanised’.
What follows is a slightly edited copy of a letter I sent to him.
15 August 2022
Dear Mr Bakke-Jensen,
Regarding your decision to ‘euthanise’ Freya, it seems to me there are a limited number of options for understanding it.
1. Let’s not indulge in euphemism. Freya was a living mammal like us, who wanted to live. What you ordered was a killing, or a murder.
2. ‘[T]he persistent threat to human security.’ But that threat was a result of human actions; Freya was not the cause. Yet you decided to murder her because you could not be bothered to make a serious attempt to control the behaviour of the human populace.
3. ‘We carefully examined all the possible solutions. We concluded that we could not guarantee the wellbeing of the animal by any of the means available.’ In other words, in order to protect the wellbeing of Freya, you murdered her. Interesting logic! It reproduces the statement of the American army officer in Vietnam: ‘In order to save the village it was necessary to destroy it.’
So we can conclude that you are either a human supremacist, a liar, and/or insane.
But whichever it is, you should be deeply, deeply ashamed.
P.S. Espen Fjeld has supported your decision, saying that ‘taking care of this individual really has nothing to do with taking care of the walrus population.’ Again, interesting logic. Shall we apply it, in the interests of consistency and honesty, to humans? In which case, it doesn’t really matter what happens to any individual human – you, say, or Dr Fjeld – because there are certainly more than enough humans to go around. Would you accept that conclusion? If not, we must add to the list of possibilities that you are also a hypocrite.
Read ‘The death of Freya’, by Patrick Curry, on the #EarthTongues blogTweet