Don’t get too close to walrus in Norway!!

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A visitor in Norway was recently penalized £900 for intruding on a walrus’s space. Reports surfaced after bystanders observed a man approaching the animal on an ice floe, presumably attempting to capture a photograph.

This incident occurred in the Svalbard archipelago, nestled in the Norwegian Arctic, where local laws strictly prohibit the unnecessary disruption of wildlife. The Svalbard Environment Act safeguards various species, including polar bears, seals, whales, reindeer, arctic foxes, and walruses, by penalizing any disturbances.

The individual, believed to be of Polish nationality, was promptly escorted to the governor’s office and fined 12,500 Norwegian Kroner, which equates to approximately £900. Emphasizing the importance of respecting wildlife, the governor’s office issued a statement urging people to maintain a safe distance from walruses to prevent both disturbance to the animals and potential risks to humans.

According to police prosecutor Magnus Rindal Fredriksen, the incident unfolded near Longyearbyen, situated at the fjord’s base, with the tourist’s arrival coinciding with the occurrence. Walruses in Svalbard have been under protection since 1952, following centuries of intense commercial exploitation that drastically depleted their numbers. Although conservation efforts have led to a gradual population increase, walruses remain on the Norwegian National Red List, indicating their vulnerable status.

In response to growing concerns about tourism’s impact and climate change, the Norwegian government plans to implement stricter regulations, effective next year. These regulations include a prohibition on approaching walruses within 150 meters, as well as limitations on cruise ship numbers and designated landing areas. Svalbard, particularly popular during the spring and summer months due to the phenomenon of the “midnight sun,” attracts numerous tourists annually.

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