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Bear on a cabin tour

The polar bear is curious by nature, and investigated many of the cottages between Revneset and Hiorthamn last week. FOTO: Frede Lamo

Bear on a cabin tour

Many got a rare opportunity to see a polar bear. But the Governor of Svalbard decided after a while that spectators were getting too close.



Last weekend, several days after the bear arrived in the area, there were a fair amount of boats making trips out in Adventfjorden to take a closer look. The bear was obviously curious about its surroundings and took the human presence with the utmost tranquility.

Do not disturb
Officials with the governor's office followed the bear closely right from the time it appeared at Revneset on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Rumors about the unusual visit spread quickly and soon it was sport to go on a polar bear safari near Longyearbyen.

The governor decided it was best to post a reminder about the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, Section 30, paragraph four, on its website:

"It is prohibited to lure, pursue or in any other active action, seek out a bear so that it disturbs or causes danger to people or the polar bear."

Considered prosecting
At one point there were so many boats in the area around the bear the governor's office was forced to further investigate the situation.

"Since we were observing boats near the polar bear, we were out jotting down the personal details of each," said Vice Gov. Jens Olav Vestgøte Sæther. "There was in particular one boat that seemed to be a little too close. We considered a prosecution action for a moment, but since it did not look as if the bear changed its behavior due to the presence we have decided to drop this."

Fantastic pictures
Frede Lamo, a hobby photographer and former police officer for the governor, was one of many who took the opportunity to get some snapshots of the polar bear that most originally assumed was a young male. But Lamo said he strongly believes there was talk about it being female. He took about 650 pictures of the bear while it was at Hiorthhamn and Revneset.

Lamo said he believes people took consideration and did not disturb the wild animal.
"I spent one-and-a-half hours out there and all of the boats that were there when I was kept what I would call a safe distance from the bear," said Lamo, who guesses he has seen and photographed hundreds of polar bears.

When the boundary line of disrupting a polar bear crossed?

"There is no specific distance, but if the bear changes its behavior as a result of human presence, the limit is violated," Lamo said. "But that is a difficult line to draw. That the bear looks up and sees the onlookers is not changing its behavior, but if it, for example, leaves prey it is eating as a result of our presence a boundary has been broken."

"The female polar bear that came to Longyearbyen's neighboring area behaved itself like most polar bears when they get spectators," Lamo added. "It trotted a path along the shoreline and kept on with it, totally unaffected by the human presence."

Cabin raid
The polar bear appeared at Revneset on Wednesday, and wandered into Adventfjorden and back before officials with the governor's office used a helicopter to chase the animal inland into Hanaskogdalen on Sunday. During that time the bear went into some cabins and looked through the windows of even more.

From a cabin belonging to Anders Ringheim came the smell of something good and therefore the bear broke through a window after removing a shutter covering it.

"I had a carpenter at the cabin for a few days," Ringheim said. "He was taking take a break in the city and therefore there was some food left behind."

Besides breaking the windows the bear went in and out of, it overturned and crushed some of the furniture. All of the food was, of course, sniffed out and devoured.

"I can confirm that polar bears like sausages, bacon, eggs, brunost and butter," said Ringheim, who immediately took to repairing the cabin after the unwanted visit.

Before the bear disappeared it went inside Reingheim's cabin one more time to see if there were treats not discovered the first time.


Se bildet større

The sign says 'Beach Ranch'. And the bear is considering a bath. FOTO: Frede Lamo

Se bildet større

Having a good time by the beach. FOTO: Frede Lamo

Se bildet større

The polar bear was way to heavy for the table. During the 'wisit', the bear has discovered both sausages, bacon, eggs and butter. FOTO: Anders Ringheim

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