Private owners help dog population reach record high
A record 717 dogs were living in Svalbard at the end of 2014, nearly 100 more than at the end of 2013. “The increase in the past year is due to both the number of private dogs and dogs in commercial use increasing,” said Elin Lien, senior natural resources manager for The Governor of Svalbard. “But the number of dogs in private ownership increased the most.” There’s also an increase in the number of “inside dogs” such as terriers, she said. There were 378 privately-owned dogs and 339 commercial canines at the end of 2014, according to official figures. There are 17 dogs in Ny-Ålesund and 15 in settlements other than Longyearbyen.
Teen wins dispute with police, can use moped without license
A 16-year-old boy has prevailed in a dispute with The Governor of Svalbard about whether a driver’s license is required to operate a moped in the archipelago. The youth, who asked not to be named, was stopped by police in October for driving too fast and the officer subsequently stated a license was required because the moped weighed more than 150 kilograms. A law requiring a license took effect on the mainland in 2002, but the youth argued it did not apply to Svalbard. “I had studied the matter beforehand … but nevertheless I was given driving ban by the governor and had to wait many months for a response,” he said. Two national transportation agencies confirmed his assertion in December and Lt. Gov. Jens Olav Sæther offered an apology for the length of the dispute.
Cleanup cruises cancelled due to lack of grant funds
Plans for two cleanup cruises where paying passengers would collect trash on Svalbard’s beaches have been canceled due to insufficient grant funds, according to The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, which was organizing the trips. AECO requested a grant of about 1.25 million kroner from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund, but received only 150,000 and AECO has decided to relinquish the funds.