Tag Archives: The Governor of Svalbard

THE THICK BLUE LINE: For Svalbard governor’s new vehicle, ‘community policing’ means big blue reflective strips so people can easily recognize it when seeking help and see it the dark

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It won’t make getting pulled over for traffic stops any more pleasant, but The Governor of Svalbard is hoping an abundance of distinctive blue light emitting from its new police vehicle offer a more enlightening encounter with residents and tourists during dark times.

TWO POLAR BEARS FLOWN AWAY, TWO NEW ONES ARRIVE: Well-known female bear and her cub removed from cabin area at Hiorthhamn, but new ones near town separately hours later

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Photo by Guri Opheim.

A female polar bear who’s been a persistent visitor to the Longyearbyen area was flown with her cub well away from town Monday after yet another lingering visit to the cabin area at Hiorthhamn. But within hours two new bears arrived near town, one in Adventdalen and the other near at Revneset – with the latter trying to enter cabins and prompting officials to try to scare it scare it away using flash-bang shots and helicopter, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“The governor asks people to be alert when they are out in the field and report if they observe polar bears,” a statement issued Tuesday morning notes.

CLOUDY COMPLICATIONS: Several days of fog in Longyearbyen results in multitude of cancelled flights, heightened problems with polar bears making repeat visits near town

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Dense fog in Longyearbyen the past several days has resulted in several cancelled flights during a crippled tourism season (now including the loss of cruises due to COVID-19 outbreak on one), plus an inability to detect and monitor polars visiting populated areas near Longyearbyen, according to officials and media reports.

POLAR BEAR BRINGS EARLY-MORNING MAY DAY CALL: Helicopter tracks animal for four hours as it wanders from Bjørndalen and past cabins before heading north

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A polar bear sighted in Bjørndalen at about 3 a.m. Friday was tracked by a rescue helicopter for about four hours as it wandered past cabin areas, into Adventdalen, and though the water and coastline across from Longyearbyen before heading northward away from town, according to police.

People in cabins reported the bear to officials, who used the aircraft to monitor it but took no other action, said Police Chief Lt. Kjell Arne Lundin. He said there were no reports of encounters with people who were out.

No special precautions are being taken since the bear is now considered a safe distance from inhabited areas, he said.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR THURSDAY: Quarantine for locals arriving from mainland extended until April 10, “digital’ community meeting tonight and more

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This story will be updated throughout the day. Photo of social-distancing sun-worshiping snowmobilers by Ann Khanittha Chuphu.

A 14-day quarantine for Longyearbyen residents arriving from the mainland, even if they were in quarantine there, will be extended until at least April 10, Svalbard Gov. Kjerstin Askholt announced Thursday.

“The decision is, as before, based on assessments from, among others, the infection control doctor at Longyearbyen Hospital and the emergency response council for Svalbard,” she said in a prepared statement.

While Svalbard remains the only region in the High North free of officially diagnosed cases of COVID-19 as of midday Thursday, the quarantine of residents and a complete ban on visitors are among measures exceeding those on the mainland due to concerns about the archipelago’s isolation and lack of adequate facilities to treat patients.

AUTOPSY – BEAR DIED OF ANESTHESIA-RELATED CAUSES: Officials cite ‘unfortunate,’ but not unexpected reasons polar bear stunned near Longyearbyen died on helicopter flight north

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A two-year-old polar bear sedated and flown by helicopter away from Longyearbyen in late January because of repeated visits in/near town died during the flight of “circulatory failure/shock due to the combination of prolonged chasing, stress and drug anesthesia,” the Norwegian Polar Institute declared in a statement Thursday following an autopsy.

BREAKING – TRAVELLERS FROM NON-NORDIC COUNTRIES BANNED, PLAN TO SEND THOSE HERE HOME: Justice ministry OKs tougher Svalbard policy; affects first passengers Friday

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All people arriving in Norway from non-Nordic countries are prohibited to travel to Svalbard while strict coronavirus restrictions are in effect, Svalbardposten reported Friday. The restriction, following a meeting by The Governor of Svalbard with Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security, was prompted by concerns Svalbard doesn’t have the capability of hosting such tourists for a mandatory 14-day period. Plans are also now being made to send such visitors who’ve arrived since Feb. 27 (when the quarantine retroactively applies to) back home.

A text message sent by Longyearbyen’s emergency preparedness advisor Friday afternoon states the ban applies to everyone – tourists and permanent residents – although there was immense confusion early on about specifics of the policy. Comments posted on social media shortly after the ban was announced stated locals trying to return from trips to Oslo were being denied if they didn’t hold Norwegian passports.

LOCAL CORONAVIRUS ADVISORY ISSUED: ‘Call first – don’t show up at the hospital,’ other guidelines as local officials match preparatory measures on mainland

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Practice reasonable (not panicked) hygiene behavior and if you’re worried you might have the coronavirus call (don’t immediately visit) the hospital, local officials urged in alerts Monday that replicate similar cautionary efforts being made in mainland Norway following the country’s first diagnosed case in Tromsø last week.

TWO KILLED IN AVALANCHE: Germans w/ Russian snowmobile tour group caught in snowslide on glacier about 20 km south of Barentsburg on Thursday afternoon

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Two Germans on a snowmobile trip were killed Thursday afternoon by an avalanche that hit a glacier at Fridtjofbreen, about 20 kilometers south of Barentsburg, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

POLAR BEAR DRUGGED, BUT DIES ON FLIGHT NORTH: Officials stun bear near Longyearbyen, investigating why it died on helicopter to northeast Svalbard

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A polar bear spotted near Longyearbyen on Thursday evening was tranquillized after being chased away from town with the intent of flying it by helicopter to northeast Svalbard, but the animal died during the trip for reasons now under investigation, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“We don’t know why it died,” said Morten Wedege, the governor’s chief environmental advisor, in a prepared statement. “The bear will now be autopsied to find the cause.”