Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Aug. 6, 2019


More summer bear encounters, more pedestrian paths in Longyearbyen and yet another person without proper equipment results in a full-scale rescue search in the wee-morning hours.

Two more polar bear encounters near people, but animals chased off without incident
Multiple polar bear visits to human-occupied have been reported to The Governor of Svalbard in recent days, including two this weekend where both human and bear escaped unscathed. On Friday the Hopen Meteorological Station, where dozens of bear sightings have occurred during springtime, reported two more nearby, but staff there were able to scare the bears off. On Sunday a bear was reported dangerously close to a campsite at Ymerbukta, but the campers and people in a nearby boat were able to chase the animal away by firing a total of five signal flares at it.

Man without map or communications gear rescued after getting lost during hike near Longyearbyen
A man dropped off by a boat on a coast in Isforden who failed to show up at his pickup time was found early Tuesday morning after a two-and-a-half hour search using boats and both of The Governor of Svalbard’s rescue helicopters. The man was dropped off at Diabasodden, a relatively short distance from Longyearbyen into the fjord, and supposed to be picked up by another boat in time for his flight shortly after midnight Tuesday. The governor’s office was notified at about 2:20 a.m. of the man’s absence and, after a boat search was unsuccessful, the governor deployed its helicopters as well. The man was found unharmed at about 6:15 a.m. Police Chief Lt. Anders Haugerud said the man went astray and did not have a map or communication equipment with him, which officials consider irresponsible. “The trip from Longyearbyen to Diabasodden is not a long trip,” Haugerud said. “But in dense fog it can still be difficult.”

Riverside pedestrian paths from coastline to Huset scheduled for October completion
An extension of pedestrian paths on both sides of the river through Longyearbyen to provide a total of 3.6 kilometers of paths from the coastline to Huset is scheduled to be completed in October, said Øyvind Hellum, the city’s project manager. The project includes rockbeds to improve the consistency of river’s flow and keep it from overflowing its banks during heavy storm and melt periods. “Longyear River is not a big river, but it can be big under special conditions,” Hellum said. The project is a collaboration between the city and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, which provided 20 million kroner in funding.