Norway’s hottest couple? The Østmarka wolves!

By Kelsey Larson

Managing Editor

Recently, the Norwegian American Weekly has been keeping up with the Østmarka wolves on the Norwegian news page (page 2), but it is time to bring this story to our English-speaking readers, with a little challenge involved.

For those who may not have heard the story, it was recently discovered that two wolves, a male and a female, had moved into the Østmarka forest east of Oslo. Since this was the first time wolves had been spotted marking territory in the forest since the late 1800s, many Oslo-dwellers were excited about the development. However, some were not so happy, since the forest is a popular recreation area and place to ski in the winter, as well as hike, bike and swim in the summer. Would it be dangerous for wolves to live in this destination forest, that is technically within the city limits of Oslo?

Sheep farmers that use certain areas  around the forest for grazing think it will be a disaster for their animals, and dog owners are also a bit nervous.

“It is very distinct from territory to territory how wolves behave. In some territories, many dogs can be killed. The reason is that the wolf will defend their territory against intruders. The task for dog owners, in Østmarka and elsewhere, must be that they watch their dog closely,” said  Jan Huseklepp Wilberg of the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate to newspaper Aftenposten.

But it seems the wolves are in Østmarka to stay, and researchers even say a litter of pups could be expected in the spring.

Among those excited about the wolves are Norwegian newspaper VG, national news service NRK, and the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature, which recently teamed up to hold a contest which would decide the names of the wolf pair.

A jury panel selected five options, and votes were tallied online.

The choices:

Ask and Embla: in Norse mythology, Ask and Embla were the first two people created by the gods (in a similar tradition to Adam and Eve).

Hansel and Gretel: you know this story. Two popular characters in the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, known for outsmarting an evil witch.

Fenris (Fenrir) and Frøya (Freya): Another set of names from Norse mythology. Fenris, or Fenrir, was a monstrous wolf, the son of the god Loki. Frøya, or Freya, was the beautiful goddess of love and fertility.

Ulvåga and Mariulv: These names are more on the creative side. Mariholtet and Elvåga are both places in the Østmarka forest. The word ulv is Norwegian for “wolf.” Mash up these words and you have personalized wolf-names to match their habitat.

Rask and Rusle: this is a pair of names suggested to VG by a reader. “Rask” means quick, while “Rusle” is a term used to descibe a leisurely stroll.

It was announced last Friday that the winning names were Fenris and Frøya, according to polls conducted on VG’s website, in which 11,670 Norwegians participated.

“That it is an Old Norse name that represents the wilderness and a direct connection to the wolf as an exciting, fascinating and mysterious animal is great,” said the Society for the Conservation of Nature representative on the jury, Arnodd Håpnes, though he himself favored Ulvåga and Mariulv.

I could not help wondering as I read the results of the poll: what would Norwegian American Weekly readers think?

So, here is the challenge: send in your votes! Which names do you think should have won the poll?

Do you have any other good ideas for names for the wolves?

Or do you think a newspaper survey to assign names to a pair of wild animals is silly? (You are not alone: many people on VG’s website commented that a news service really had no business naming the wolves).

No matter what you think, we would love to hear from you!

Email or write us at 7301 5th Ave. NE, Ste. A, Seattle, WA 98115 with your answers! 

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.