Friday, 4 June 2010

Nature is great - at a distance.....

I live in Norway’s 5th largest town, Trondheim. I live just three minutes walk from the town square, where most people don’t think its possible to experience any wildlife at all - except for the few seagulls and city pigeons that roam the area in hope of getting a piece of anthropogenic left overs of course. I think, and I know, differently. Every evening I have a river otter swimming past by my garden, I have a badger that often play in the garden and just the other day, there were also two young moose strolling around in the neighbourhood. Most people never notice all these animals, but when they do – its always a cry out in the local newspapers that there is too many of them, they don’t behave normally beeing so close to humans, they can be dangerous to people etc etc……

The two young moose, recently been pushed away from their mother (as is common this time of the year), was out exploring life on their own and trying to get a grip on what to do and not to do in this world. Testing boundaries - normal youth behaviour I would say. Of course, many people thought it was interesting to have such large animals walking around in the neighbourhood. Our, as usual, trigger happy wildlife management authorities thought differently - and killed them! Afterwards, they said that it was not possible to sedate them and move them back into the forest as they then only would return back to the city. Well, they never tried – so we will never know, will we? For the best for the animals they said. Hmm….maybe its just me beeing stupid, but how do we actually help healthy animals by killing them?

I am quite surprised of many people’s low acceptance for nature, and their likewise high acceptance for playing God and to decide who is going to live and not. What makes it worse, is that the decisions are often based on a complete lack of knowledge of animal behaviour and biology. In Norway, we have a strong tradition for hunting, sadly this seems to be the only method that our nature management employees think its possible to use for ”managing” nature….by shooting and killing. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for hunting and eating meat and utilise nature resources. In fact – I think its much better ethically to eat meat from a hunted wild animal, than meat from a cow or pork that has all its life lived innside in a space not big enough to turn yourself around...But I am quite astonished by the low acceptance to actually enjoy wildlife and nature alive in this country. Norwegians like to think of themselves as a nature loving people. However, to me it seems that most people are only interested in the scenery, and not really the creatures that lives in the fjord, in the forest or up on our beautiful mountains – the things that actually makes nature beeing nature.

I’ve been participating in radiotracking both wolves and lynx from time to time, and most people would probably be amazed of how close to people these animals like to live. In case you didn’t know – these animals are in fact rarely out in the wilderness. I have tracked wolves lying virtually in the garden to people’s houses, and lynx hunting domestic cats in the suburbs of Norway’s capital – Oslo. Next time you see a deer in the garden, a fox chasing some birds in a field nearby – don’t immediately think of the animal as sick, injured or a result of beeing too many – don’t run for your rifle, but rather take your time to enjoy nature’s way of adapting to a world which get more densely populated by humans as every minute goes by. It’s all natural behaviour!!

I met this fox during rush hour in the biggest city of  Norway. For some animals, an urban area might be as good habitat as any other territory far out in the wilderness.


  1. Many wise words Eirik! I could not agree more with everything you just said. Citizens of Norway have become so complacent about our natural heritage that they take it for granted. On the other hand, I believe the black-and-white "save all or nothing" mentality of the Norwegian environmentalist movement is counterproductive.
    Wildlife and habitat conservation and fishing/hunting goes hand in hand here in North America. In fact, many wildlife refuges would not have existed today if not for generous donations from hunting and fishing organizations. These managed wetlands, forests, and grasslands provide excellent breeding and foraging habitats for wildlife year-round, while at the same time allowing for licensed hunting for deer, waterfowl, turkeys etc. at specific periods of the year. AND the hunters respect and appreciate the non-game wildlife just as much as the rest of us.

    Just something to think about....

  2. Totally agree with you Frode. We have to protect habitat and areas so they don't get "built down", but nature reserves where people are not allowed to enjoy nature is no good in the long run. Without proper management of the nature reserves - they will soon change so the habitat and quality of the area will change significantly - at most times not for the best for the wildlife. Anyway, this is a bit on the side of the topic I adressed in my blog. Norwegians tend to be a "nature loving" people, but once they get nature close they immediately freak out and want to destroy it - like a row deer or a moose calmly foraging in the garden.