Oh, Freya, how we loved you. Named after the Norse goddess of beauty and love, you were 1,300 pounds of blubber, a chubby maiden of the sea, with all your sea mammal splendor and plus-size personality. No small boat in Oslo, Norway, was safe if you wanted to hoist yourself on deck, take a nap and sun-bathe like a movie star.
There was an ever-growing number of fans, onlookers and tourists surrounding you, with cameras flashing. Reaching celebrity status comes with consequences. And mostly, it is we humans who can screw up the good times. Swarms of people crowding around Freya, taking selfies with her, swimming alongside her in the fjord, became a serious safety concern. So, a beloved walrus, who was just living her best life, was euthanized. This decision was made by the head of Norway’s fisheries, claiming that people were not heeding warnings to keep away from Freya and the poor walrus was stressed and in a “bad situation.” Hey, Mr. Fisheries, the walrus is now dead, so it doesn’t seem as though her “bad situation” has improved!
Sometimes, human interaction with wildlife doesn’t end well. A bear in the woods attacks a hiker. A moose in Alaska recently head-butted a child who was feeding it bread. Yellowstone National Park has had to deal with plenty of mischief (craziness) when people try to take photos with bison or, worse, hug them. Our beautiful countryside homes are often pushing the edges of wildlife’s habitat, and then we are faced with the “nuisance” of trying to live in harmony with bears, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats and javelina.
According to Fish and Wildlife resources, humans should never feed a wild animal. If you are hiking and see a wild animal, stand still, do not run, and make yourself look large. OK, sure, but I am not going to have eye contact (as is suggested) with a bear! An elderly lady who lives in Payson went outside to gather some flowers and left her kitchen door open. When she walked back into the house, a black bear was standing before her in the kitchen. She had just baked an apple pie and tossed the whole pie to the bear, who happily stuck his face in the dish and went walking outside with the pie. The quick-thinking woman shut and locked her door. She was saved by a pie! When a wild animal attacks and kills a human, often there is an ensuing hunt to “put down” the offending beast, due to “unchecked aggression and danger.” So much for attaining harmony.
The international outcry over Freya continues. The main question is why destroy a beautiful beast, just because she was in the way. Was there no other option? A new home? A way to capture and release somewhere more compatible with walrus life? Now, the people of Oslo have started a fundraiser to erect a statue for Freya, to honor her as the “spirit of the sea.” Rest in peace, dear Norse goddess.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.