POLAR BEAR APPROACHES TOWN: Governor spends Monday morning chasing animal away from Longyearbyen


A polar bear spotted near Longyearbyen early Monday morning that at one point approached the dog kennels at the edge of town proved difficult to chase away  despite lengthy efforts by officials using a helicopter and other means, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

Reports about the bear from numerous residents in cabins and with views of Adventdalen and nearby areas west and north of town (including Anna Ejsmond, who took the photo above) were made to the governor and posted on social media around 3 a.m. The governor’s office deployed one of its two rescue helicopters at about 6:30 a.m. after lesser attempts to chase it away were unsuccessful.

“It was spotted at the old Northern Lights station in Adventdalen at 3 a.m.,” Terje Carlsen, a spokesman for the governor, wrote in an official Facebook post. “The bear was heading towards Hiorthhavn, but turned and went in the direction of the kennels and further towards SSU. The governor tried to scare the bear away with warning shots, but it was only when the helicopter came that it set in motion in the direction of Hiorthhamn again.”

As of about 10 a.m. the bear was at Deltaneset and officials were tracking it by boat. The governor’s office told Svalbardposten numerous other boats are also looking for the bear and is warning sightseers they are required to stay far enough away they don’t affect the bear’s behavior.

The bear’s visit occurred two days before the arrival of the first large cruise ship of the season, when many of the thousands of passengers take unescorted and unarmed walks that can include the kennel area as they seek out the polar bear warning sign just outside the town limits.