A mating pair of Arctic skua were found shot dead on the Tjörnes peninsula in North Iceland this week, Vísir reports. Arctic skua are a protected species in Iceland and can only be hunted in protected eider duck nesting sites during the nesting season, as they often feed on eider ducklings. However, the skua pair in question were found in their own nesting grounds and nowhere near an eider nesting site. It was, therefore, a criminal offense to shoot them.
The discovery of the birds was reported on the website of the Northeast Iceland Nature Research Centre (NNA). The pair was one of two tagged pairs of Arctic skua that have nested annually on a heath near the NNA facility since 2009.
Arctic skua are migratory; these birds flew 14,000 kilometers [8,699 miles] from their wintering grounds in the southern hemisphere to their nesting site in Iceland. “It was utterly pointless and wicked to shoot them there,” wrote NNA director Þorkell Lindberg. “You just don’t know what’s inside people who do something like this.”