Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of July 7, 2015


Reindeer  population down in Adventdalen, but still high
Adventdalen’s reindeer population declined slightly from last year’s record numbers, but is still higher than researchers expected and confirms a trend toward larger herds, according to two independent counts.

The Norwegian Polar Institutes estimates this year’s population is about 1,300 reindeer due to a high winter survival rate among adults. On the other hand, only about half of the does had calves, whereas last year most gave birth. “We are now operating at a level that for the first 17 years would have been unimaginable,” said Nicholas Tyler, a reindeer researcher at The Arctic University of Norway at the University of Tromsø, which performed the other survey. “Then the average was 600. Now the average is well over 1,000.” He said climate change appears to be resulting in better grazing areas and this year’s wet winter weather freed up hillsides reindeer could feed on.

Repairs to weather-damaged Mine 7 road underway
Repairs are underway on the road from Longyearbyen to Mine 7, which was heavily damaged during the winter, according to city officials. “The road has in some places become so bad there is no longer a mass to drive on and of course it’s unpleasant for coal vehicles, but also for those who have cabins up in the valley and for tourist traffic,” said Einar Olsen, a production engineer for Enhet, which is providing technical assistance to the city. Planning started a month ago and workers hope to have the worst sections repaired by next week.

Accidental shot damages house; no injures reported
A .30-06 caliber bullet accidentally fired in a residential building in the center of Longyearbyen caused structural damage, but no injuries, according to The Governor of Svalbard. The man, not realizing the gun was loaded, pulled the trigger and sent the bullet through a wall on the second floor, damaging a bed and a water pipe before landing in the yard about 10 meters outside the building, according to Police Chief Lt. Ståle Nylund. The man will likely be fined an undisclosed amount.