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Daily Archives: 2. January 2020 − News & Stories


Shot polar bear was already flown out in 2016

The polar bear that was shot on New Year’s Day at 4 a.m. turned out to be an old acquaintance. It was a seven year old male.

Dead polar bear, New Year's Day 2020

The polar bear that was shot on New Year’s Day 2020. Photo © Sysselmannen på Svalbard.

As it turned out, it was the same bear that was around Longyearbyen for several days in April 2016. Personally, I had a little meeting with this very bear in mid April back then as I stepped out of a hut in Sassenfjord and noticed this bear not far away at all. It had also noticed me and was already on the run. Most likely, it was the same bear that was shot yesterday. Back then, it was seen several times near various huts.

Polar bear, Diabasodden

Better days: the bear is running away after a brief, harmless encounter in Sassenfjord.
It was very likely the animal that was shot on New Year’s Day 2020.

A few days later, mid-day on 22 April 2016, this bear was suddenly seen near the shore in Adventdalen, an area that is frequented by large numbers of snow-mobile tourists, skiers and dog sledges. Back then, the bear was aanaesthetised and flown out to Kinnvika on Nordaustland, a good 200 km away from Longyearbyen.

Polar bear, Adventdalen

The polar bear on 22 April 2016, sleeping peacefully in Adventdalen near Longyearbyen.
It is the same bear that was shot on New Year’s Day 2020.

So this bear showed up again just after Christmas 2019, after three and a half years, near and even within Longyearbyen. Several attempts to scare it away with helicopters and other means failed in the end, and the Sysselmannen decided to kill this bear. This happened in Hanaskogdalen, about seven kilometers north of Longyearbyen.

Aggressive behaviour of this bear towards humans is, as of now, not publically known.

Polar bear, Adventdalen

In April 2016, the bear was anaesthetised and flown out.

Also this time it was considered to anaesthetise the bear and fly it out then. According to official statements, the lack of experts in Longyearbyen due to the Christmas holidays was the main reason why this did not happen.

It is not surprising that the killing of the bear is now met with a lot of criticism and a controversial, partly heated, debate in social media.

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