Iceland Mag

-1 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Birds

Three day puffin-hunt criticized

By Staff

  • On the defence The Puffin population in Southern Iceland has declined as the supply of sand-eels in the ocean. Other sea birds have also suffered, as the competition for feed has increased. Puffins have responded by moving to Northern Iceland. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson.

Municipal authorities in the Westmann Islands in Southern Iceland have decided to allow a three day hunting season for puffins this summer. The hunting of puffins will be allowed in the islands on the weekend of August 7-9.

A threatened population
This year‘s season is two days shorter than in the past two years. However, the hunt was banned in 2011 and 2012, due to the poor condition of the puffin population in the islands.

Erpur Snær Hansen, an ornithologist at the Southern Iceland Institute of Natural History tells the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that scientists have recommended the hunt be abolished to protect the puffins, who have been in decline in Southern Iceland for several years. Due to changing conditions in the ocean around Iceland the puffin population has been shifting to the north, where puffins are hunted in far larger numbers than in the south.

An occasion to teach traditions or "diss" scientific advice?
Erpur doubts this year‘s hunt in the Westmann Islands will be very extensive: "Perhaps a few dozen birds. As I understand it there are very few people planning to actually hunt."

According to a local Westmann Island news site, Eyjafréttir, the annual hunt is an occasion to teach a younger generation of locals how to catch and hunt the birds, and the traditions surrounding the annual hunt. Eyjafréttir argues very few birds are actually caught, and that most of the birds caught are released.

Despite this Erpur thinks the decision to allow the hunt is wrong and shows disrespect for scientific advice: "Still, I think this is pretty lame. We have informed people of the condition of the puffin population. It‘s not good. But people don‘t seem to respect that. So, this is a bit of a diss."

Related content

Editor's Picks