BE NOT THAT AFRAID: Yes, a polar bear (or two) is lurking near town Saturday – but that’s NOT why this helicopter is rattling roofs

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Locals missed out on dozens of dogs yelping, but there were a few cases of the yipes at noon Saturday as residents wondering if a polar bear lurking near town was the reason a rescue helicopter was perched on the ridge of Sukkartoppen a short distance above homes.

Short answer: no. Somewhat longer answer: Click the blue box below.

Polar bear sighting were reported during the morning at Bjørndalselva, Bjørndalen and Mälardalen – adding to sightings near Longyearbyen during the past several days that have resulted in the cancellation of field research and other activities. – as well as Kapp Lin and Barentsburg. The reports near Longyearbyen resulted in the cancellation of an open day at the kennels near the edge of town scheduled from noon to 3 p.m., but when one of The Governor of Svalbard’s rescue  helicopters landed on the ridge halfway up the mountain rising above the downtown homes a statement was quickly necessary to clarify it wasn’t due to that particular threat from nature.

“The helicopter activity over Longyearbyen now is not because of the polar bear, but work in connection with the avalanche protection on Sukkertoppen,” the governor’s announcement stated.

Other updates were posted by the governor’s office during the day, including the somewhat obvious observation that multiple bears are in the areas where the sightings have been reported (which are spaced out in a stretch of more than 60 kilometers between Barentsburg to the mountains across the bay from Longyearbyen). In addition to disrupting field research near Longyearbyen, bear encounters have included one that damaged boats at Fredheim last Friday and invaded cabins at Vindodden last weekend.

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