OFF-LIMITS: Governor bans snowmobiles in three popular areas due heavy traffic disrupting polar bears and seals

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Snowmobile traffic is banned until June 1 in popular travel areas at Billefjorden, Tempelfjorden and Rindersbukta due to heavy traffic disrupting polar bears and seals during peak spring hunting season, The Governor of Svalbard announced Thursday.

“The total burden on the environment in these areas has increased as a result of the traffic,” said Morten Wedege, head of environmental protection for the governor, in a prepared statement. “We regard this as a necessary measure to protect seals and polar bears in a particularly vulnerable phase.”

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Access ban in Rindersbukta (click to enlarge)

The off-limits areas include:

• Rindersbukta: Areas covered by sea ice within a straight line between Ottoneset and Fagerstaneset.

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Access ban in Tempelfjorden (click to enlarge).

• Tempelfjorden: Sea ice within a straight line between the mouth of Murdochelva and Kapp Schoultz. It is allowed to cross the sea ice outside this area on tracked vehicles (snowmobile) using the shortest navigable route. When crossing areas covered by sea ice in accordance with this decision, it is prohibited to pause or to come to a complete stop.

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Access ban in Billefjorden (click to enlarge).

• Billefjorden (including Mimerbukta, Petuniabukta and Adolfbukta): It is allowed to cross the sea ice in  on tracked vehicles (snowmobile) using the shortest navigable route between Nordenskiöldbreen and Pyramiden. When crossing areas covered by sea ice in accordance with this decision, it is prohibited to pause or to come to a complete stop.

The governor warmed last week travel limits were being considered following reports and observations of snowmobiles getting too close to wildlife and/or lingering in areas to observe. The Svalbard Environmental Protection Act prohibits any behavior that affects the behavior of wildlife.

 

About Post Author

Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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