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Home* News and Stories → Frost: queen without land or a cri­mi­nal polar bear?

Frost: queen without land or a cri­mi­nal polar bear?

As if an ani­mal such as a polar bear could be a cri­mi­nal. But the­re are tho­se in Lon­gye­ar­by­en who say that Frost is a cri­mi­nal polar bear.

Accord­ing to polar bear sci­en­tist Jon Aars, “Frost” is a fema­le polar bear, age almost 17 years, cap­tu­red and mar­ked by the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te for the first time in 2009 in Wij­defjord and known to sci­en­tists as N23992. In later years, Frost got cubs a num­ber of times: twins in 2011, 2012 and 2013 – the rapid seri­es indi­ca­ted that she must have lost her off­spring at least the first two times – and again twins in 2015 and 2017 and a sin­gle fema­le cub both in 2020 and 2022. Frost is a well-known polar bear for sci­en­tists, who have caught and mar­ked her repeated­ly.

Polar bear and hut in Adventfjord

Polar bear and hut in Advent­fjord.
It is not known if this polar bear actual­ly is Frost.

Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, Frost and her sib­lings have many times had con­ta­ct to sett­le­ments, huts and humans, some­ti­mes with tra­gic con­se­quen­ces. In 2014, one of her twins from 2013 died in Bill­efjord under cir­cum­s­tan­ces not ful­ly reve­a­led but in clo­se tem­po­ral con­nec­tion to a sci­en­ti­fic ana­es­the­tiz­a­ti­on. The other one of the­se two unfor­tu­n­a­te twins was shot after it had been in a camp in Tem­pel­fjord in 2015, whe­re one per­son recei­ved minor inju­ries. The sad cli­max was, howe­ver, reached when one of Frost’s descen­dants kil­led cam­ping place mana­ger Johan Jaco­bus „Job“ Koot­te in his tent on the cam­ping place in Lon­gye­ar­by­en on 28 August, 2020. The polar bear was shot.

Frost got her popu­lar name in the docu­men­ta­ry “Queen without land” made by the Nor­we­gi­an film maker Asge­ir Hel­ge­stad.

Polar bear family, Billefjord

Polar bear fami­ly in Bill­efjord, Sep­tem­ber 2021.
It is unli­kely that this is frost, becau­se she got a sin­gle cub in 2020.

Frost appears to spend most of her time in Isfjord, with occa­sio­nal visits to inner Wij­defjord. She has appeared many times in the vicini­ty of the sett­le­ments, Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Pyra­mi­den, and occa­sio­nal­ly pro­bab­ly also wit­hin them. And she seems to have got used to brea­king into huts and tra­shing them in search for food, as hap­pen­ed recent­ly to the hut of Gre­en­dog, a com­mer­cial dogyard in Advent­da­len near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The Sys­sel­mes­ter (government representative/police) usual­ly tri­es to sca­re polar bears away with fla­re guns, heli­co­p­ters of snow mobi­les. If this doesn’t work, ana­es­the­tiz­a­ti­on and a flight to a remo­te place wit­hin Sval­bard are amongst the remai­ning opti­ons. But this has alrea­dy been done with Frost, only to see her com­ing back a while later. More robust, but non-let­hal deter­ring methods such as rub­ber bul­lets or pep­per spray or a “polar bear pri­son” as in Chur­chill, whe­re bears are kept for a while with only water and no food to teach them that get­ting too clo­se to sett­le­ments and humans is not a good thing, are appar­ent­ly not in the arse­nal of Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties.

Which means that a dead­ly rif­le shot soon comes into con­si­de­ra­ti­on. This was now pro­po­sed for Frost by Longyearbyen’s mayor, Arild Olsen, who said that Frost has beco­me a dan­ger to the public. But such a decisi­on can not be made by Longyearbyen’s mayor. Only the Sys­sel­mes­ter, cur­r­ent­ly Lars Fau­se, has the power to deci­de on this. Fau­se, howe­ver, said that the law does not per­mit the pre­ven­ti­ve shoo­ting of a bear. Ins­tead, it allows this final step only in case of dan­ger to human life; in excep­tio­nal cases also to pro­tect major mate­ri­al values.

But Fau­se said he alrea­dy made up is mind what to do when a polar bear comes clo­se to, for examp­le, the way to school of Longyearbyen’s child­ren.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (3): Die Bären­in­sel und Jan May­en”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2022-10-06 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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