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Daily Archives: 17. September 2019 − News & Stories


Polar bears near Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The­re have been regu­lar polar bear sightin­gs in Isfjord during the who­le sum­mer, both on the north side, from Trygg­ham­na to Ymer­buk­ta and Borebuk­ta, in Bill­efjord near Pyra­mi­den, but also near Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

This is an ongo­ing situa­ti­on: the­re have been several bear sightin­gs recent­ly not far from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, in Cole­s­da­len, Bjørn­da­len and Mälarda­len. The bear(s) in Cole­s­da­len and Bjørn­da­len may be one and the same indi­vi­du­al, but the one seen in Mälarda­len, on the north side of Advent­da­len and just a few kilo­me­tres away from the sett­le­ment and road, is ano­t­her indi­vi­du­al.

On Mon­day (16 Sep­tem­ber), a man had to fire a shot from insi­de a hut at Dia­ba­sod­den, about 20 kilo­me­tres nor­the­ast of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, to sca­re a polar bear away. This worked well and then the Sys­sel­man­nen picked the man up by heli­co­p­ter to avoid fur­ther risks.

All this shows that it is very important to take the risk of mee­ting polar bears very serious­ly, also in Longyearbyen’s near sur­roun­dings.

Polar bear in Hiorthhamn near Longyearbyen

Polar bear in Hior­th­hamn clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en (archi­ve image).

The local news­pa­per Sval­bard­pos­ten has a litt­le sur­vey every week and this time they asked what peop­le think about the incre­a­sing num­ber of polar bear sightin­gs near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. So far 790 peop­le have given their vote, which is a lot for the Sval­bard­pos­ten gal­lup. 500 voted for “we live on Sval­bard so we have to adjust”, but no less than 241 cho­se “it is time to dis­cuss hun­ting polar bears again”. The­se sur­veys are not repre­sen­ta­ti­ve and cer­tain­ly some­ti­mes the ques­ti­ons and the given ans­wers show an ele­ment of humour and sati­re, some­thing that may also be true for the votes that peop­le give. This may exp­lain at least some of the many votes that ask for dis­cus­sing polar bear hun­ting again.

Polar bears were hun­ted inten­se­ly in Sval­bard until 1973. The recent incre­a­se in num­bers is, at least in part, still a reco­very from tho­se years when hun­ting polar bears was an indus­try.

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