Unauthorized dogs face euthanization upon arrival
People arriving in Svalbard with dogs without obtaining the necessary permission and vaccinations risk having the animal euthanized, according to a Norwegian Food Safety Authority official who said one owner faced that situation during the past weekend. Hilde Haug, a district manager for the agency, said the strict rules are due to previous outbreaks of rabies in Svalbard. Dog owners must obtain permission by showing proof the animal has been vaccinated to the agency. Dogs also must undergo a strict check before returning to the mainland. The person who arrived with an unauthorized animal last weekend escaped having their dog killed when an agency case worker was able to contact a local veterinarian able to examine the dog, “but we can not guarantee that this happens next time,” Haug said. In such an instance, the owner will be responsible for the cost of euthanizing and disposing the dog, and may face fines and criminal charges.
Revised ‘white paper’ nearly finished, justice minister says
The finishing touches are being put on the Norwegian government’s revised “white paper” outlining policy goals for Svalbard, according to Minister of Justice and Public Security Anders Anundsen. He said there will nothing jaw-dropping in the updated paper, although he declined to discuss specifics. “We mention the challenges and suggest solutions,” he said. “But all the answers are not given.” He visited Svalbard during the past few days to get a final round of feedback from local government and business leaders, who have at times complained about the length of time the update is taking to complete. The government declared a speedy update of the current white paper, last revised in 2009, at the beginning of last year due to economical, societal and political problems posed by the coal mining crisis at Store Norske. The government has so far endorsed efforts to bolster tourism and research in Longyearbyen to perhaps double the current levels, and earlier this year amended the Marine Resources Act to allow commercial fish processing facilities to open in the archipelago.