Ptarmigan hunting controls reap reward in Iceland

rjúpaPtarmigan hunting in Iceland went very well during the season which has just finished – perhaps a little too well for some hunters.

The ptarmigan is the traditional Icelandic Christmas bird and its popularity as a food source led to it becoming endangered. To counter this, strict hunting controls have been in place for years, and more recently a total ban on the sale of ptarmigan was also introduced, apparently with good results.

Vilhjalmur Vernhardsson, a ptarmigan shooting trip tour guide, is publicly decrying the sale ban as outdated this year – pointing not only to the successful hunting season, but also to indications of an active black market trade in the popular Christmas food.

Official hunting figures are not yet available, but hunters are almost universally pleased. Furthermore, most are said to have been conservative with the number of birds they shot, with only a few becoming ‘gung ho’.

RUV reports that it is not possible to accurately say how much ptarmigans cost on the black market; but that it is probably between ISK 1,000 and 4,000 per bird – depending on personal connections. For comparison, a supermarket chicken costs between ISK 1,000 and 1,500, while a small turkey costs around ISK 5,000.

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