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Daily Archives: 9. June 2017 − News & Stories


Old ammunition found in polar bears bodies

An autopsy revealed shotgun ammunition in the fat tissue of the bodies of two polar bears. One, a female with a cub, was shot in June 2016 in Austfjordnes. Only two months later a Russian researcher shot another female polar bear in Forlandet.

Polarbear with cub

Polarbear with cub

The shot was encapsulated in the fat and flesh of the bears in both animals, which means it must have hit them well before they were killed in 2016. Ammunition was found in several places of the bodies. Knut Fossum, environmental director for the Sysselmannen (Governor of Spitsbergen), presumes that the shots were fired from a relatively short distance. Probably someone wanted to scare away the polar bears with pellets, but hit them. Shot is unlikely to hurt a polar bear seriously, but serious injury may occur if, for example, a joint or an eye is hit. Veterinarians refer to the case of a reindeer that was killed with an airgun. Additionally, even smaller injuries may lead to pain and inflammation.

Polar bears are strictly protected on Spitsbergen, injuring them or killing them will be punished. Shooting at a bear with shotguns to scare it away is both unsuitable and illegal.

How long the polar bears already carried the ammuniion in their bodies and whether they suffered from pain, is not certain.

Source: Svalbardposten

Flooding of Global Seed Vault attracts international media – eight month after!

International media reported for several weeks about a leckage in the Global Seed Vault, where seeds of all countries are stored for thousands of years.

Global Seed Vault – Seeds for generations?

Global Seed Vault

The flooding actually happened – but already in October 2016! An article in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in May 2017 mentioned the leakage with correct date. But on 19th May 2017 an inattentive journalist of “The Guardian” made a current message out of that article. High temperatures in combination with weeks of rainy weather were mentioned, which finally led to a flood in the entrance area of the Global Seed Vault. Everything correct, just more than half a year ago.

A message, but no news

Even the big media houses Reuters and Vox jumped on the bandwagon, apparently without checking the source. A phone call to Hege Njaa Aschim would have been enough to clarify the misunderstanding. Aschim is press officer of Statsbygg, a state-run company who manages and maintains the Global Seed Vault. But after all, numerous other newspapers, radio and TV stations wanted to know more precisely: Hundreds of press requests reached Aschim in one week! She could correct, that it was a real message, but not really news.

Deceptive security?

The fact that the Global Seed Vault, which has actually been constructed for eternity, must already be repaired after less than ten years, seems almost less important now. The actual camp, which now contains nearly one million seed packets from 73 institutes and gene banks, was not affected by the water. However, a transformer was destroyed and the fire brigade had to pump the tunnel, which leads 100 meters down to the actual camp.

Deeply locked in in the permafrost, the Global Seed Vault was believed to be safe from flooding. Now investigations are to be made as to how the camp can be secured against warm periods. 37 million crowns (ca. 3,8 million Euros) will be provided for that.

Source: Dagens Næringsliv

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