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Home* News and Stories → Polar bear in Longyearbyen

Polar bear in Longyearbyen

Spitsbergen is polar bear country, even more so in recent years as the species has seen a remarkable recovery since full protection in 1973 after years of intense hunting. In recent years, it has become pretty normal again to see bears on the west coast of Spitsbergen, also close to the settlements. All of them had polar bears in their vicinity or even in the settlement areas in 2019.

Longyearbyen has now had a Christmas polar bear in town on Thursday morning. The bear was seen at about half 7 in central Longyearbyen. It was walking in the pedestrian area near shops, restaurants and dwelling houses.

Polar bear, central Longyearbyen

Polar bear in central Longyearbyen, Thursday morning near 06.30.
Photo © Marie Lørup Stenshøj.

The Sysselmannen (police) was soon on site and used a helicoter to push the bear out of the settlement to the south, up Longyearbreen (Longyear glacier), through Fardalen and into Colesdalen to be as certain as possible that there is no more immediate danger.

The incident shows that it is important to take the risk of meeting polar bears seriously. This is true anywhere and at any time in Svalbard, but especially during the dark season and in the early morning hours, when there is little traffic that would be likely to see a bear near town before you happen to meet it.

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last modification: 2019-12-27 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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