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Home* News and Stories → Distance regu­la­ti­ons for polar bears in force from 2025

Distance regu­la­ti­ons for polar bears in force from 2025

As expec­ted, the Nor­we­gi­an Par­lia­ment has pas­sed new regu­la­ti­ons regar­ding mini­mum distances to be kept from polar bears (and other stuff). The new rules will thus come into force in 2025.

This means that a mini­mum distance of 300 m is requi­red to be kept from any polar bear, regard­less of the cir­cum­s­tances. If a polar bear is dis­co­ver­ed within this distance or if it comes clo­ser (swim­ming or wal­king on ice or land), then you have to move away. This includes boats that are ancho­red. During spring (01 March – 30 June), the mini­mum distance is 500 met­res.

This is valid any­whe­re in Nor­we­gi­an waters such as Svalbard’s 12 mile zone.

Polar bear, distance

A com­mon way to obser­ve a polar bear is from a ship. In the case, the bear was curious and it had deci­ded to approach the ship. No dis­tur­ban­ce or risk invol­ved.
Nevert­hel­ess for­bidden in Nor­we­gi­an waters from 2025.


The issue has, as you might ima­gi­ne, been mat­ter for a hea­ted public deba­te for some time, which has been reflec­ted on this site more than once. The­re is no need to go into detail here again. Many, inclu­ding a num­ber of peo­p­le with signi­fi­cant rele­vant expe­ri­ence, have expres­sed that the new regu­la­ti­ons are rub­bish, to put it blunt­ly. This includes this aut­hor. The new rules will do litt­le for ani­mal pro­tec­tion or to pre­vent ris­ky situa­tions, but they will great­ly dama­ge the tou­rism and film indus­try. The regu­la­ti­ons in force so far for­bid approa­ching a polar bear in any way that would invol­ve a risk of dis­tur­ban­ce or even dan­ger to ani­mal or peo­p­le, and that is good enough. As far as the­re were pro­blems, they were not due to a lack of regu­la­ti­on but rather a lack of con­trol and enforce­ment. The lack of con­trol and enforce­ment will con­ti­nue in the future, but from 2025 on exis­ting meaningful regu­la­ti­on will be repla­ced with over­re­gu­la­ti­on.

Dan­ge­rous situa­tions occur often in con­nec­tion to camps or huts, and the new regu­la­ti­ons will not make a dif­fe­rence here.



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last modification: 2024-05-24 · copyright: Rolf Stange