Fossil fiend: Tourist detained at Svalbard Airport for trying to smuggle bones from marine mammal

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A man in his 50s is facing criminal charges and a fine after officials found skeleton parts from a marine mammal during a luggage check at Svalbard Airport, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

Officials conducted the search before a flight departed Wednesday after receiving a tip from a tour operator that a visitor had taken bone pieces from a beach, said Police Chief. Lt. Vidar Arnesen in a prepared statement.

“We did not find anything on the basis of that specific tip, but in the luggage of another visitor we found vertebrates from a marine mammal,” he said.

The Svalbard Environmental Protection Act prohibits the removal of animals or animal parts from the archipelago. Arnesen told NRK most tourists are familiar with the regulation, but there have been other attempts to smuggle animal parts.

“The purpose is that we want an almost untouched environment here and that everyone who visits Svalbard will have the same experience,” he said.

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