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Home* News and Stories → Polar bears near Longyearbyen

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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last modification: 2019-09-17 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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