Bears are back: Mother, two cubs return to Mine 7 Monday after long effort to chase them far from town


A mother polar bear and two cubs that have twice been chased away from areas near Longyearbyen since Saturday were spotted on the Mine 7 mountain late Monday morning, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“The bears are still and we’re keeping them under observation,” Police Chief Lt. Vidar Arnesen said in a prepared statement.

The governor’s office is asking the public not to seek out the area where the bears are located.

“It is important not to stress the bears now,” Arnesen said.

Philipp Bergau, a local dogsledding guide, wrote on his Facebook page that he arrived at the kennel site with a guest and “stepped right back into the car” after spotting the bears about 20 meters away. In a separate post, he noted the bears were laying about 20 meters away from the road and the governor had sent three snowmobiles and a car to the site.

Officials from the governor’s office chased the bears away from town using a helicopter and snowmobiles shortly after midnight Saturday and again on Sunday – the latter effort taking considerably longer as officials hoped to cover a sufficient distance to discourage the bears’ return to settled areas.

In some previous instances, officials have tranquilized bears that were too close to town or repeatedly returned, then flying them by helicopter to remote parts of Svalbard.