A group of trophy hunters in Norway thought they had scored the kill of a lifetime — two prime moose — only to realize that they had, in fact, shot a couple of inhabitants of a zoo, The Local is reporting.
The Polar Park Zoo is a wildlife preserve near Tromsø, Norway, about a thousand miles north of Oslo, inside the Arctic Circle.
Until last week, the zoo counted five large moose among its inhabitants.
“Polar Park is home to Norway’s large predators such as bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines and foxes, as well as their prey such as deer, [moose], reindeer and musk. We also have a little mink and an otter living in the park. Polar Park is an event and animal park in Bardu municipality in the county of Troms. It opened on 18 June 1994, and is based on exhibiting animals in their natural surroundings. This means that each species gets a lot of room to romp on: With 1100 dekar (1 dekar = 1000 square meters) in only 12 enclosures, the Polar Park is one of the animal parks in the world with the largest area per animal. “
That number is now down to three, thanks to some hunters’ big mistake.
The hunting party was hunting moose in the area near the zoo, when their dogs caught a scent. The dogs somehow managed to get inside the moose enclosure — it’s not clear how, as of this writing — and the hunters failed to realize that their quarry were zoo animals or that they were in a zoo. They shot the two moose dead before realizing their mistake.
For their part, the hunters notified the zoo when they realized their mistake, but it was a small comfort to zoo director Heinz Strathmann.
“I reacted with disbelief, and the first few seconds afterwards were pretty unreal. I think this is very sad, and it’s not OK. We had five [moose], now we have only three.”
Troms County wildlife official Arne Nysted insists that the moose were killed by accident, and he doesn’t want to see criminal charges levied against the hunters.
“This is a regrettable mistake made in connection with lawful hunting on the outside of the park. It was a fatal error, but everyone understands that it was not done at all on purpose.”
The police, however, haven’t yet ruled out criminal charges against the hunters, and police spokesperson Katrine Grimnes said that no decision would be made until everyone has been interviewed.
“We’ve have spoken to the hunting party, been out and stood at the place which he shot from, and formed a picture of what he would have seen and what the area looks like. We do not want to comment further until we have questioned the hunter himself.”
In a worst-case scenario, reports CNN, the hunters could face prison. More likely, however, is that the hunters would have to pay a fine.
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The zoo, however, would like the hunters who killed their moose to pony up some money for their moose, according to Strathmann.
“We have to buy two new moose, the cost of the vet, autopsy, transportation and destruction.”
The cost of replacing the two dead moose would be about $7,000.
Hunting is big business in Norway, with several travel agencies and outfitters encouraging Norwegians, and foreign tourists, to come to the country to hunt. Foreign hunters are allowed to bring their own firearms into Norway, provided they declare them on entering the country and can demonstrate that they’ve taken a firearms safety course.
Do you think the hunters deserve to be punished for killing the moose in a zoo? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock/Jan Miko]