Critics blast ending to moose drama

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The latest urban misadventure of a Norwegian moose over the weekend ended not only with shots inside a busy train tunnel, but with criticism from animal rights group NOAH. No thought was given, the group claims, to how frightened the moose must have been, while a deer suffered the same sad fate.

Moose in Norway have an unfortunate habit of heading into populated areas, not least along streets and highways. A dramatic incident in Oslo on Sunday ended very badly for the moose involved. PHOTO: Inge Ove Tysnes/www.ingeovetysnes.com

The drama began when a moose calf wandered into downtown Oslo on Saturday morning, presumably from the nearby forests that surround the city. The moose was first spotted by motorists on the busy E18 motorway near Mosseveien, the main traffic artery heading out of town to the south.

After disrupting traffic on the highway, the moose managed to escape into what it probably thought was a more open, safer area, but that turned out to be the train tracks heading into Oslo’s Central Station. And from there, the moose, clearly scared and panicking, ran into one of the main tunnels leading west from the station towards the next train station under Oslo’s National Theater. The moose may have seen the tunnel as a dark and quieter refuge from all the activity around the station.

That forced officials at state railway NSB, though, to halt all train traffic through the tunnel, disrupting service for thousands of train passengers for more than an hour. Police, emergency workers and wildlife officials decided to shoot the animal to end the disruption. Wildlife officials entered the tunnel from the National Theater station and shot the large animal when it was found along the side of the tracks.

A similar fate met a deer that wandered into another tunnel, Romerikstunnelen, which serves the Airport Express Train (Flytoget). The deer was also shot, and that upset those advocating humane treatment of animals and animals’ rights. NOAH’s leader called the shootings a “primitive” solution by the wildlife authorities (viltnemndene).

“In both cases, the problem was that traffic was disrupted, not that the animals were, for them,  in a frightening situation that ended with their death,” said Siri Martinsen, leader of NOAH. She complained on Monday that it’s become routine for the wildlife authorities “to shoot to kill when wild animals venture into urban areas and on to traffic routes.”

Martinsen wants the authorities to re-think their strategy and prepare alternative methods for tackling such situations.

“We know from other countries that sedating and transporting the animals back to the forest functions well,” Martinsen said. “In some cases, the animals can also be led back when it’s possible.”

She believes it’s become “much too easy to kill animals that get in our way. It’s possible to have more consideration, and we should be able to afford to do so.”

NOAH now plans to urge wildlife authorities all over Norway to choose solutions that also take the animals’ interests into account.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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