Polar bear ransacks cabins at Kapp Laila; officials tranquilize it and fly it far north


A polar bear that ransacked several cabins at Kapp Laila was tranquilized and flown by helicopter to Nordaustlandet on Friday, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

The governor’s office was notified Friday morning the bear, possibly injured, has broken into several cabins and was still inside one of them, according to a prepared statement. Sven Are Johansen told Svalbardposten he and Emelie Våtvik were visiting their cabin in the area after hearing reports of a bear there the previous evening. While their cabin was spared, the outhouse and several nearby structures were damaged, and the bear was still inside one of them.

“We fired several scare shots to get it out of the cabin, we wanted it away from there,” Johansen said.

The effort was unsuccessful and they notified the governor’s office, noting the bear might be injured. Officials from the governor’s office and Norwegian Polar Institute flew by helicopter to the scene, according to a prepared statement by the governor’s office.

“The bear was anesthetized and examined,” said Gov. Kjerstin Askholt. “It had no visible damage. Since the bear had destroyed several cabins in the area and was already anesthetized we decided, in consultation with the Norwegian Polar Institute, to move it to Nordaustlandet by helicopter.”

The bear is believed to be the same one observed by three hikers at Colesdalen on Thursday. The hikers were scheduled to be picked up at Kapp Laila, but failed to show up because of their efforts to avoid the bear.

“After a little exploration we found the three in the Colessdalen,” Police Chief Lt. Arnt Rennan told Svalbardposten. “They did not have communication equipment with them. The walkers were physically exhausted and battered so they were brought to the hospital for assessment.”

The governor’s office also had to respond early Thursday evening to a report that a mother polar bear and two cubs – who have been frequently spotted in the vicinity of Longyearbyen in recent weeks – were close to Camp Barents in Adventdalen. Officials used a helicopter to chase the bears well away from the area towards Eskeerdalen.