Spitsbergen ptarmigan, and hunting

Ptarmigan male, Svalbard, June 2013

This is a photo of a, male, rock ptarmigan. Still in winter plumage, even in early June. The only bird species staying in the Svalbard archipelago even during the harsh Arctic winter. All other birds then have migrated to the south.

This ptarmigan was close to Longyearbyen, the capital of Spitsbergen. It was not shy; quite close to the camera. There will be more Svalbard ptarmigan photos on this blog.

However, what do we read in the English language guide for tourists Svalbard Spitsbergen 2013, from Spitsbergen travel, on page 18?

Spitsbergen offers a varied menu, but we are especially proud to serve local Arctic produce such as seal, whale, reindeer and ptarmigan

Have the lessons of Spitsbergen’s history, when whaling and other hunting almost made many local animal species extinct, not been learned?

Does the author of the lines on “local Arctic produce” want ptarmigans and other animals to become shy, in that way ruining revenues from ecotourism on the archipelago?

Apparently, the hunters do not eat themselves (most of) the animals which they shoot. They try to sell the rest to other Norwegian and Russian inhabitants of Svalbard.

And apparently, these Norwegian and Russian inhabitants of Svalbard do not buy all that seal, whale, reindeer, ptarmigan, etc.

So, it is marketed in English to foreign tourists.

Let us look at the animals which the brochure names (more Svalbard species, not named there, are hunted; including pink-footed geese).

So, ptarmigans are shot. That is not loyalty to the only birds loyal to Svalbard the whole year.

This video is called Arctic Fox, Reindeer, Polar Bears of Svalbard, Norway.

Reindeer are shot. Like ptarmigans, they are a subspecies unique for Svalbard. Along with Arctic foxes, they are the only native land mammals of Spitsbergen.

Whales are whaled.

There are twelve whale and dolphin species in the sea around Svalbard: bowheads; white whales; narwhals; blue whales; fin whales; humpback whales; minke whales; sperm whales; northern bottlenose whales; killer whales; long-finned pilot whales; and white-beaked dolphins.

This video is about narwhals.

In 2012, a beautiful white humpback whale swam near Svalbard. Will whaling hinder whale watching, beneficial to the economy of Svalbard?

There are six seal species in the sea around Svalbard: walrus; ringed seal; bearded seal; harbour seal; harp seal; and hooded seal.

This video is about a harp seal pup.

Seal meat, traditionally, was one of few food items available for people living in the high Arctic. In Svalbard in the 21st century, however, that is not the case.

26 thoughts on “Spitsbergen ptarmigan, and hunting

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