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Home* News and Stories → Polar bear track near Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Polar bear track near Lon­gye­ar­by­en

A polar bear track has been found on Lon­gye­ar­breen (-gla­cier) clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, accor­ding to the local news­pa­per Sval­bard­pos­ten. It is very unli­kely that the track is from the bear that has kept peo­p­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en exci­ted in late Decem­ber and was then shot on 01 Janu­ary: mean­while, the­re have been win­dy wea­ther and snow­fall, so the recent­ly dis­co­ver­ed tracks are very likely youn­ger. This means that the­re was again a polar bear clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en and it might still be around.

Com­mon sen­se and the Sys­sel­man­nen tell ever­y­bo­dy in and near Lon­gye­ar­by­en to be alert and take care.

Polar bear tracks

Polar bear tracks (archi­ve image; it is dark now in Spits­ber­gen 🙂 ).

As expec­ted, the dis­cus­sion around the bear that was shot in the ear­ly mor­ning hours of New Year’s Day in Hanas­kog­da­len, about 10 kilo­me­t­res away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, is high­ly con­tro­ver­si­al. Nor­we­gi­an offi­ci­als con­firm that they had to shoot the bear in order to gua­ran­tee the safe­ty of the peo­p­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en espe­ci­al­ly during the dark sea­son as this ani­mal was not shy any­mo­re and did not hesi­ta­te to go near and even enter the sett­le­ment. Others, such as the Rus­si­an polar bear sci­en­tist Niki­ta Ovsyani­kov who has gathe­red a lot of expe­ri­ence with polar bears in the Rus­si­an Arc­tic, even speak of “mur­der” and accu­se the Syss­sel­man­nen of not having used all opti­ons to sca­re the bear away per­ma­nent­ly. Here, Ovsyani­kov men­ti­ons pep­per spray which is not a com­mon polar bear deter­rent in Nor­we­gi­an ter­ri­to­ries, it is actual­ly not even legal acces­si­ble for mere mor­tals under Nor­we­gi­an legis­la­ti­on. An inte­res­t­ing dis­cus­sion and it would cer­tain­ly be inte­res­t­ing to inves­ti­ga­te fur­ther non-lethal tech­ni­ques to sca­re polar bears away from sett­le­ments, a field whe­re a lot might be lear­nt from peo­p­le like Ovsyani­kov. Pep­per spray might cer­tain­ly expand the ran­ge of opti­ons of Nor­we­gi­an poli­ce when it comes to non-lethal polar bear deterr­ents and the­re are tho­se who say that it might also have a place in a wide con­text. Pri­va­te per­sons might use it, for exam­p­le, from the rela­ti­ve safe­ty of a hut or even a tent, some­thing that would, howe­ver, requi­re know­ledge and ner­ves that not ever­y­bo­dy has.

To make it clear again: pep­per spray is curr­ent­ly not legal in Nor­way inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen and this is unli­kely to chan­ge at any time soon.



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last modification: 2020-01-15 · copyright: Rolf Stange