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Home* News and Stories → Fema­le polar bear and cub shot at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set

Fema­le polar bear and cub shot at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set

A fema­le polar bear and her first year cub were shot at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set (inner Wij­defjord) in Spits­ber­gen on June 13 (during the sea­son, news are updated with delays. The focus is cur­r­ent­ly on the tra­vel blog). Two per­sons are cur­r­ent­ly living at Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set to win­ter the­re as trap­pers.

The bear had been in the vicini­ty of the hut for a while, pro­bab­ly becau­se of nests of Com­mon eiders in that area. It is com­mon that polar bears eat eggs and chicks of tun­dra bree­ders during the bree­ding sea­son. It is, howe­ver, uncom­mon that a mother bear with a cub comes clo­se to human pre­sence.

One of the two inha­bi­tants of the hut was insi­de, the other one was on the roof to sca­re the bear away with warning shots. While doing so, it came to a fatal mista­ke: rather than with a rub­ber bul­let as inten­ded to sca­re the fema­le polar bear away without inju­ry, the shoo­ter loa­ded his gun with sharp shot. This pro­ved to be let­hal on a distance of 8.5 metres.

On advice by a polar bear spe­cia­list of the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, the poli­ce shot the cub on loca­ti­on the same day. The cub, being about 6 mon­ths old, did not have a chan­ce for sur­vi­val on its own.

As all cases of polar bears kil­led, the inci­dent is now mat­ter of legal inves­ti­ga­ti­on at the Sysselmannen’s office in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Polar bears are com­ple­te­ly pro­tec­ted in Spits­ber­gen. Only in cases of self defence, a kill is exempt from punish­ment.

The two trap­pers, Nor­we­gi­ans 28 and 29 years old who had stu­di­ed at UNIS and worked as gui­des in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, retur­ned to Aus­t­fj­ord­ne­set after poli­ce ques­tio­ning in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

The case of the group of ski tou­rists from Fin­land, who had inju­red a polar bear at Ver­le­gen­hu­ken north on Spits­ber­gen which then had to be shot by the poli­ce, has been clo­sed mean­while. Accord­ing to the Sys­sel­man­nen, it was not a cri­mi­nal act.

Pho­to

Hap­py litt­le polar bear fami­ly in Kongfjord. The mother is chewing on remains of a dead wal­rus, while her first year cub is play­ing with a pie­ce of drift­wood. Nor­mal­ly, fema­le polar bears with off­spring stay away from human pre­sence. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, the­re are excep­ti­ons to this rule.

Polar bear family, Spitsbergen

Sources: Sys­sel­man­nen, Sval­bard­pos­ten

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2016-08-12 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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