BEAR AT CABINS IN BJØRNDALEN: Governor, after abandoning helicopter chase due to weather, flies out again Sunday morning when bear seen in populated area near town

bearbjørndalen

While no bears have been at or attacked people at Longyearbyen Camping since it opened in 1975, there have been multiple occasions when bears have been close by, including the end of December of 2019 when one was seen repeatedly in an area just west of the campsite. Map by the Norwegian Polar Institute.

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Update 12 p.m. Sunday: “The governor still does not have a full overview of where the polar bear is now,” Gov. Kjerstin Askholt said in a prepared statement. “We therefore ask people to be very careful.”

Original story: A polar bear that visited Longyearbyen twice since Thursday before being chased away returned Sunday morning to a cabin area in Bjørndalen, about eight kilometers southwest of Longyearbyen, where The Governor of Svalbard has again deployed a helicopter with the intent of chasing it far from settled areas.

bearintown
A polar bear that has visited Longyearbyen and a cabin area near it three times during the past four days is observed on a road near the center of town Thursday. Photo by The Governor of Svalbard.

“It has both been in the sea and on land,” a statement issued by the governor’s office at about 9:30 a.m. notes. “The Governor has sent out the helicopter and Polarsyssel (service vessel) to locate the bear, and is also in the area with police on land. The governor urges people to be very careful.”

There are numerous cabins in the valley along the road beyond Svalbard Airport where residents live year-round.

The bear visited the center of town Thursday morning and the recreation area of Longyearbyen School on Saturday morning, with the governor chasing it into the mountains south of town both times using a helicopter and other vehicles. Plans to chase the bear by helicopter to Van Mijenfjorden, an inlet about 20 to 25 kilometers south of Longyearbyen, on Saturday were aborted due to bad weather, leaving the bear at the innermost section of Bjørndalen.

“This means that we cannot fully predict which way the bears will move,” Gov. Kjerstin Askholt said in a prepared statement.

An official watch was set up and residents are being urged to call the governor’s emergency 112 number if they see the bear or fresh tracks.

sillysign
Notices both serious and silly about the polar bear are being posted around town and online. Photo by Bee Nord / Instagram.

 

“We still have high readiness to try to observe the bear if it approaches Longyearbyen again,” Askholt said. “However, it is difficult to predict which way it will choose; it can be the same way as before or via Bjørndalen and Vestpynten – or a completely different way.”

The governor is considering flying the bear far from settled areas, but doesn’t have the personnel necessary until after the Christmas holidays.

The bear’s visits are proving both thrilling and worrisome, with locals and visitors flocking to the riverbed and other areas in search of bear tracks (and people complaining about some folks “spoiling” them with their own prints), and various warnings issued for those venturing outdoors for other reasons.

“Because of the situation with the polar bear visiting Longyearbyen we ask our guests for the nightclub to be extra careful,” a notice posted by Huset on local social media Saturday stated. “We recommend everyone get to and from here by taxi or private vehicle.”

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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