REYKJAVIK, Iceland: Police in Iceland say they shot and killed a polar bear that was threatening the public, but a veterinarian says the intruder could have been captured alive.
The polar bear seen Tuesday in northern Iceland was the first seen in the country in 20 years.
Stefan Vagn Stefansson, chief policeman in Saudarkrakur, said no drugs were available to sedate the bear, so he consulted with Porunn Sveinbjarnardottir, the minister of the environment, on the decision to kill it.
“The animal was moving and we could not risk to lose it out of eyesight,” Stefansson was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper Morgunbladid. “The weather conditions were foggy and the bear was moving quickly.”
Sveinbjarnardottir said drugs were unavailable and the gun needed to fire them was elsewhere in the country.
“There exists no strategy about what should be done in a situation like this,” she said.
However, veterinarian Egill Steingrimsson said he had the drugs available in his car and the gun could have been dispatched within an hour.
He also criticized police for not closing a mountain road where people congregated after hearing news of the bear.
“There were around 50 to 60 people there watching. The police did not have many options when the bear ran down the hill, approaching the crowd,” Steingrimsson said.
“I’m very unsatisfied that the police did not try to catch it alive and did not close the road.”
It’s not known how the bear reached Iceland, but it was believed it may have hitched a ride on an iceberg or that it swam.