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20,000 kroner fine for trapper

Unusual case: The female bear that was shot has a young cub. It was euthanized after experts determined it could not live without its mother. FOTO: The governor of Svalbard

20,000 kroner fine for trapper

A trapper who shot a female polar bear with what he thought was rubber ammunition has been found negligent in the death of the bear and her cub. He is agreeing to pay the fine and being allowed to continue his stay at the trapping station.

Shortly before 10 a.m. on June 13, one of two trappers at the Austfjordneset station shot a female polar bear that had approached the station several times.

"Our handling of the situation has resulted in an assessment of negligence," said Lt. Gov. Berit Sagfossen. "He loaded the weapon with different ammunition. At the time he was shooting, he no longer remembered remembered the sequence. What he thought would be a shot with a rubber bullet was instead a live cartridge."

Was his status as a trapper an aggravating circumstance?

"No, nothing distinguishing is added because of that," Sagfossen said. "They must adhere to the rules in any event."

End of stay considered
The agreement The Governor of Svalbard signs with trappers who are selected to spend a year at the station states the agreement can be immediately terminated if there is a violation of the terms of the contract, the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act or permits issued by the governor.

"A careful assessment has been made to determine if there would be other consequences beyond the the penalties he has now received," Sagfossen said. "But after a comprehensive assessment we are not doing anything with the agreement, it is not terminated. But we have followed up with a long conversation about dealing with polar bear incidents."

The governor takes such incidents seriously, she emphasized.

Hit the center of the body
The foundation of the penalty notice states the man in his late 20s was about eight meters from the female bear when his shot hit the middle of the animal'a body on the left side of the upper chest, killing the bear as a result. The bear had a cub that was killed by officials from the governor's office on the same day because experts determined it could not survive without its mother.

The trapper had loaded the shotgun the day before with different types of ammunition, believing the order to be rubber bullets, clay slugs and buckshot.

"He was not sufficiently diligent as he forgot the order of the ammunition he had loaded the night before, so a live round was fired instead of a rubber bullet," the notice states.

The bear was hit by 24-grain steel buckshot.

Resolved on-site
Prosecutors for the Troms and Finnmark region were assigned the case. On Monday, officials from the governor's office visited Austfjordneset to inform the trapper about the 20,000-kroner fine. He accepted the fine on the spot, Sagfossen said. The notice states the man's financial situation was taken into account when determining the penalty.

Svalbardposten requested the officials visiting the two trappers at the station ask if they are interested in telling their version of the story. No response had been received as of press time Wednesday.

Translated by Mark Sabbatini

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