Iceland ptarmigan hunting season begins

Iceland’s annual ptarmigan hunting season begins today; despite diminishing numbers of the grouse-like bird.

The ptarmigan (rjúpa in Icelandic) is a favourite traditional Christmas food and is highly sought after; but because of pressure on the bird stock, hunting is heavily regulated and ptarmigan can only be shot for personal use and may not be sold.

Ptarmigan hunting is allowed on just half as many days this year as it was in 2010 because the number of birds has gone down still further between years.

Hunting is permitted for nine days this year: today, tomorrow and Sunday; as well as the next three Saturdays and Sundays, RUV reports. The final hunting day is therefore the 27th November. The sale of ptarmigan is still prohibited and hunting is completely banned in a large area of southwest Iceland.

Hunters will be actively monitored by the authorities on land and in the air and the Environment Agency is calling on hunters to be considerate and take as few birds as possible.

Last year around 71,000 ptarmigan were killed — which was 20,000 fewer than the year before and still many more than scientists and conservationists recommended the government to permit. This year, however, it is predicted that just 31,000 birds will be shot. If true, that would be the smallest number since hunting was allowed again in 2005 following a two-year total ban.

(Large photo on homepage: Jafro // Wikimedia)