Investigating disturbance of polar bears

The Governor has received several reports of searching of and possible illegal disturbance of polar bears. - We will follow up on tips and have started investigation on a specific case, says vice governor Sølvi Elvedahl.

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Published 5/18/2022

Pursuant to section 30 of the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, it is prohibited to lure, pursue or by other active action seek out polar bears so that they are disturbed or there may be a danger to humans or the polar bear.

- There are many boats along the west coast of Spitsbergen now. Virtually everyone wants to see polar bears, and we experience that there are different practices for how close the vessels are to polar bears, says Head of Environmental Department, Kristin Heggelund at the Governor’s office.

- The purpose of the provision in the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act is that the polar bear shall be at peace to protect it, and to avoid dangerous situations for humans. With all the traffic and activity that is now going on, we are concerned about the impact the polar bears are exposed to over time, she says.

The polar bear is a predator, and if it becomes more accustomed to human presence, dangerous situations can arise for both humans and polar bears.