Friday night fright: Governor chases away mother polar bear, two cubs near Longyearbyen


A mother polar bear and two cubs whose tracks were seen headed toward Longyearbyen on Friday afternoon were chased away from a heavily traveled area about 10 kilometers east of town shortly after midnight, according to The Governor of Svalbard. Officials plan to check the area again Saturday and are urging travelers to take precautions.

An alert was issued by the governor 3 p.m. Friday when fresh tracks were discovered at Passhytta.

“The tracks are probably from a female with cubs and they are going in the direction Longyearbyen,” the alert stated.

Officials from the governor’s office searched for the animals using a helicopter and snowmobiles, but reported no sightings in a second bulletin at about 8 p.m. However, officials continued monitoring the area and the bears were detected at the mouth of Foxdalen at about 1 a.m. Saturday

“With the helicopter and the snowmobiles, the three bears were driven into Foxdalen,” Police Chief Lt. Trond Olsen said in a prepared statement. “They responded both to the noise of the helicopter, the snowmobiles and the scare devices we used. When we left them, they were heading further into the valley.”

Foxdalen is a popular dogsledding area, and borders the heavily traveled dogsledding and snowmobile paths in Adventdalen. The valley is still in 24-hour darkness, but there a full moon and partly cloudy skies allowed some visibility Friday night and Saturday.