I just had to translate this for you (original here). This is comic artist Halldórs response to the killing of the polar bear in Iceland this week. You may have read my recent post about the polar bear that was spotted in Iceland. Well polar bears do not normally live in Iceland, but they do occasionally stray over from Greenland, particularly when sea ice shortens the gap. Over the past century or so there are very few incidents of bears making the crossing. However in the past three years a whopping four bears have swum over. All of them have been shot nearly immediately by police. They are of course a great danger to unsuspecting hikers or farmers. But polar bears are an endangered species and this rise is causing people to think of new ways to respond to the problem.
If you read through history, there are around 600 accounts of polar bears in Iceland. Most of these occurred in the 1700s, during the “little ice age” when Iceland was a whole lot colder. There are even tales of bears spotted on the south east corner of Iceland. It is obvious that this change has something to do with changing climates, just as in the 1700s.
These bears have been thought to be abnormal in some way. Why would they swim all this way? They must be exhausted beyond saving after such a journey. Right? Well a recent experiment may prove that these are healthy bears, that may just as well swim back to Greenland. US researchers tagged and tracked a female bear that swam without rest and without eating 687 km of ocean in 9 days. After the swim, the bear continued a further 1,800km on land and sea before be captured by the researchers again. The bear had then lost 22% of his body mass.
Taking this into account, the 287km between Iceland and Greenland is just a walk in the park for these guys. Polar bears also have an amazing sense of smell. They are known to smell seals from 30km and a male can smell a female 100km away (no deodorant). Perhaps bears are hanging out on sea ice which can lie only around 50km way from Iceland and smell the seals being born on Icelandic coasts. In any case it is at this time of the year that most bears have come.
So what can we do? A few suggestions for improvement have been made. Catch it, put it in a cage and take it back to Greenland. Catch it and put a tracking collar on it, then only intervene if it is nearing civilization. Catch it and put it in the Reykjavík petting zoo as the elected mayor promised during his campaign (he also promised “all sorts of things for losers”). Or just shoot it and subtract it from the hunting quota in Greenland. No point in flying it over to Greenland to have it shot there. Right?
I think tracking it would be the most interesting. It would also give us insight into their routines. Perhaps they’ll just stop in Iceland for a few days and then swim back to Greenland. But then they may find a hot spring and just hang out there…
The Reykjavík mayor is giving this lots of thought. Check out his new Reykjavík Polar Bear Project.