LIFE’S THE PITS FOR POLAR BEAR NEAR TOWN: Sleeping spot and tracks found east of Longyearbyen at Helvetiafjellet

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It might be hibernation season when polar bears are supposed to retreat to their dens, but at least one is opting to camp outside near Longyearbyen as a hiker discovered tracks and a pit in the snow where the predatory slept, The Governor of Svalbard reported Wednesday.

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Footprints and a sleep pit in the snow made by a polar bear were spotted Wednesday at Helvetiafjellet (red circle), to the northwest of Longyearbyen (lower left quarter of image). Satellite image by the Norwegian Polar Institute.

The signs of the bear’s presence were spotted at east of town at Helvetiafjellet, in the northern part of Adventdalen. A bear was observed several times this fall in the general vicinity and the governor says it’s possible it’s the same animal.

“It is outside our monitoring area, but it is good people are aware there may be a polar bear nearby,” Police Chief Lt. Lisbeth Hansen told Svalbardposten.

Hansen said the tracks are large in size and the bear apparently is not fitted with a monitoring device.