POLAR BEAR PEEPER PUNISHED: Man fined 15K for driving onto sea ice to get close look at animals this spring


A man has been fined 15,000 kroner for driving onto the sea ice within about 70 meters of polar bears he observed this spring, violating a law prohibiting the disturbance of wildlife, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

The fine imposed by the state’s attorney for the Troms and Finnmark regions is for violating the section of the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act that forbids actions that affect the behavior of polar bears or other animals, Lt. Gov. Berit Sagfossen said in a prepared statement.

“We are moving in the direction of sharper reactions for environmental violations,” she said.

The man has accepted the decision to pay the fine, according to the statement.

The incident on March 10 was among numerous reports of snowmobilers and other people venturing too close to bears, seals and other wildlife. The governor responded by closing some popular travel areas, the second year in a row bans were enacted.