Mysterious Moose Sighting Albino Moose Turns Up in Norway

Residents in Norway have sighted what is believed to be an albino moose. With the hunting season just around the corner, local residents are campaigning for it to be spared. But scientists argue that the white moose is a genetic mistake and should be shot.


The sighting of a white -- apparently albino -- moose in the Norwegian province of Østfold on Wednesday sparked a debate about whether the animal should be shot or spared. Residents, hunters and scientists had better decide quickly: moose hunting season opens Thursday.

Some residents in Østfold have called on hunters to spare the white moose, according to the Norwegian broadcasting service NRK. But the head of the regional wildlife commission isn't making any promises: "As long as there are people out there who don't agree that the animal should live, I can't guarantee that the animal will survive," said Sigmund Lerheim, according to the newspaper Aftenposten. While there are hunting quotas for moose according to their age and gender, "it doesn't say anywhere that the moose has to be brown, gray or white," said Lerheim.

Kirsten Foss Hansen

Without active protection, the white moose will most likely not survive the hunting season. And this is a good thing, according to a regional scientist who is encouraging the albino moose's rapid demise. "It is surely entertaining to have an albino moose wandering in the woods, but in purely breeding terms, it is not right to let it live," Morten Brommdal, manager of the animal section at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Oslo, told the newspaper Moss Avis.

"That so many people want the white moose to live is an emotional issue. But if it is spared, … soon we might have two, three, four or five albino moose in these wooded areas, something which in the long run can weaken the herd," says Brommdal, who pointed out that an albino moose is really a kind of genetic mistake.

Hefty debate on weblog

Meanwhile, the issue has prompted some individuals to launch their own weblog dedicated to the albino moose issue. "Well that's a bit silly," one blogger comments, "do we go around shooting albino humans?" "I had an albino hamster once," another quips, "I didn't shoot it though."

Others support Brommdal's view that the albino moose is an aberration that could threaten the overall gene pool of the herd, and advocate its removal. Some also offer more innovative solutions: "Send it to the zoo, neuter it, whatever, just don't shoot it," says commenter number 32. And "Mike Duigou" says, "let the wolves decide." Indeed, given that albinism is usually accompanied by severe vision impairment and photosensitivity, nature may very well take its course on this unfortunate moose.

But not everyone is convinced it is actually an albino moose. A Canadian blogger points out that there are white moose in Northern Canada, and postulates that "maybe it is a snow moose… maybe it is actually better than all the other moose?"

Jon Arnemo of the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. An albino moose may be a rarity, but it is far from a sensation. According to the veterinary doctor, there are approximately 450,000 moose living in Scandinavia. One third of them are hunted per year, and one albino is usually among them.

amb/spiegel

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