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Shot from 130 meters away

A two-year-old female polar bear weighing 155 kilograms lies on a beach at Selvågen on Prins Karls Forland after being shot Aug. 9 by a Russian researcher. The rope was used by researchers at the campsite to bring the bear ashore after it wandered into the water and died. FOTO: Sysselmannen

Shot from 130 meters away

This polar bear was shot last Tuesday by a Russian scientist on Prins Karls Forland.

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Scientists first spotted the two-year-old female bear about 130 meters from their tent camp. One of the researchers fired a warning shot with a flare gun before another researcher fired two shots with a rifle.

"All three shots were fired from about the same distance, about 130 meters as the crow flies," said Svalbard Lt. Gov. Berit Sagfossen. "They were fired in quick succession."

She declined to provide further details, saying the shooting is under investigation.

The bear was wounded and retreated from the tent camp into the fjord. It died of its injuries after a short time in the water and was brought ashore by the researchers.

First encounter with the bear

The bear was shot at 10 p.m. Tuesday, but the governor's office was first notified about 12 hours later.

"Such incidents should be immediately reported to the governor," Sagfossen said, citing the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act.

Did the bear approach the camp previously?

"From what I know so far this was the first encounter with the bear," Sagfossen said.

Six scientists at the camp

There were six people at the tent camp. Two were glacier researchers, and four were biologists researching the flowers and fauna.

"All six worked for a research center in Russia", Police Chief Lt. Bjørn Pedersen said. He is leading the investigation.

The researchers arrived at the site on Aug. 1 and departed as planned a few days after the bear encounter.

The case will be submitted to The Regional Public Prosecution office for the Troms and Finnmark region after the investigation.

Fourth bear this year

Four bears have died due to encounters with humans this year:

• On April 16, a Finnish ski expedition shot a bear at Verlegenhuken on the northernmost tip of Spitsbergen. The governor ruled the bear was shot in self-defense.

• On June 13, a female bear was shot at the Austfjordnes trapping station. She was accompanied by a cub which had to be euthanized because experts concluded it would not survive without its mother. One of two trappers at the station fired what he thought was a rubber bullet at the mother bear, but was a lethal shot instead. He was fined 20,000 kroner for negligence.

Se bildet større

The polar bear was shot from a distance of about 130 meters at the campsite before making its water down to the beach and attempting to swim away. FOTO: Sysselmannen

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