Polar Bear Shot Dead in Svalbard because of the Ignorance of Tourists

Today I am sharing a photograph I took less than a week ago in Svalbard whilst I was on a scouting trip to photograph Polar Bears in winter from snow mobile. I watched and photographed this magnificent Polar Bear play around this piece of blue ice against the backdrop of the glacier in Tempelfjorden in Svalbard for several hours only days ago. The teenage bear had been in the fjord for days and had been hunting seals at breathing holes along the edge of the frozen ice. I photographed the same bear two days before this image as it lay on a fresh seal kill under the polar winter sunset.

I was deeply saddened and moved to tears today to learn that this Polar Bear is now Dead. Shot dead because of the ignorance and arrogance of tourists who travelled to Svalbard to witness the Solar Eclipse. From what I have been able to piece together from the various news reports now popping up online it seems a tourist suffered minor injuries when the polar bear attacked the tent where he was sleeping. An area where the bear was known to be hunting and where these tourists irresponsibly set up their camp. Svalbard-RIPPolice spokesman Vidar Arnesen said the man was among a group of six that was on a combined ski and snow scooter trip on the remote islands more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland. The group was camping north of the main town of Longyearbyen.

The man, Jakub Moravec, told local media he hoped to be out of the hospital later Thursday.

“Now I am fine. I have some scratches in the face, on one arm and on the back. But I feel fine,” he told the Svalbardposten newspaper.

Jakub Moravec I am glad you feel fine. You don’t deserve to feel fine. It is because of you and your friends ignorance and stupidity that this beautiful Polar Bear had to be killed. Tent camping in an area a Polar Bear is known to be currently in is not only incredibly stupid, but its incredibly ignorant. Shame on you. I hope the life of this bear that you and your friends caused the death of haunts you for a very long time.

11 thoughts on “Polar Bear Shot Dead in Svalbard because of the Ignorance of Tourists

  1. Absolutely disgraceful behavior.
    Shame shame shame on you people for thinking this land is yours and yours alone. Respect the landowners and yes they are animals however in this case you are the animal.

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  2. Hi mate,
    How shocking…….disgraceful. Wonder about the guiding protocol? Feeling your pain knowing you had experienced a magical moment with this young bear!

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  3. That’s the problem with man. We believe we own the world and that all other creatures shall make way for us.
    I lament our species.

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  4. Hello all,

    Once again:

    It shows human beings cruelty, imbecility, arrogance, bad knowledge (even no knowledge at all) of the world they live in, lack of total interest in other species becoming, lack of pity before animal crimes, … my list is just endless!

    Human being WAS a specie of this world till it reaches the level where it calls oneself God and think he/she is not mortal anymore.
    But the fact is that human beings lives remains possible as soon as other species continue being part of the environment… WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT WE HAVE NO RIGHTS AT ALL AND ARE JUST A SPECIE AMONGST OTHER SPECIES!

    Living surrounded with most of the human beings becomes over time unbearable.

    Kindest regards to all antispecists in the world the ones who think that a life is a life whatever its shape, race or specie.

    Stephane.

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  5. Arrogance, Ignorance or just plain stupidity and irresponsibility on the part of these tourists. Now the man who got injured will probably show his wounds with false pride that he was attacked and survived. That low level of intelligence would go along with what they did. If they knew nothing about the dangers of Polar bear is not an excuse for causing the death of this beautiful animal. There is no excuse and its not excusable in any way. They were irresponsible and ignorant toward the polar bear and stupid beyond believe about their own personal safety. If you go to another country you expect to have to live by the laws there, you make sure you are aware of road rules (or should) and you respect the people living there. Why cant humans respect the animals too. Just so so sad. In a very basic senario you wouldnt walk into someone’s home and set up to sleep for the night there without expected to get kicked out. Give the beautiful creatures of our world at least the same respect.

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  6. Hi,

    It’s very sad that this happened but I think your story is too simple as well as hypocrite.

    First of all, nobody wants to shoot a polar bear. These people handled out of self defense and it was the right thing to do. Thousands of people, just like yourself, enjoy the beauty of Svalbard and there are almost no incidents. However sometimes things go wrong and it is good to be prepared. These people deserve credit for that.

    Second, do you have more right to enjoy this environment than other tourists? You scooter around Svalbard yourself for you personal joy as well as financial gain. You are probably accompanied by a guide, and your group caries a rifle just like this group of skiers. If something would happen in your group (snow storm, snow mobile breaks down etc.), and you are forced to set up camp, you as well take the (slight) risk of a polar bear attack. In this very unlikely scenario, you will be very glad that you can protect yourself.

    Again, nobody feels good about this happening, in the last place the people that have had to shoot the bear. It is really not for you to judge them and it is especially offensive to wish harm on them.

    Kind regards,
    Niels

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    1. Niel, I agree this is incredibly sad. But this is not over simplifying the situation and it is far from hypocritical. Of course no one wants to shoot a Polar Bear (well I hope this is the case!). Lets be blunt though, carrying a rifle and a pistol does NOT make you prepared. It makes you armed and nothing more. Being prepared is about a lot more than carrying a weapon. It is about understanding the environment, travelling with a local informed guide, understanding the movements, whereabouts and behaviour of predatory animals such as Polar Bears.

      I have no more right than anyone else to enjoy the environment – but I can tell you from what I have seen from the majority of tourists I have infinitely more respect for the environment. I am always picking up their rubbish they leave behind and educating them on how to behave in the environment in nature.

      I am certainly accompanied by a local guide when I venture out into the Svalbard wilderness and we certainly carry a rifle as a last resort. We also carry a flare gun to scare bears away as well as numerous other counter measures. More importantly we inform ourselves of nearby bears movements.

      I wish no harm on anyone – lets be clear about that (I do hope that at the very least the death of this bear weighs on the conscience of the tourists though – as it should given their stupidity in camping in this area). What I do wish is that these tourists had better educated themselves and better prepared as this bear death was unnecessary. And that is the saddest part of this tragedy.

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  7. Such an unnecessary waste of a beautiful creature that struggles to survive in such a harsh environment and doesn’t need man to make it harder. Fortunately not everyone is like that. I traveled to Svalbard in 2013 with a group of very respectful people who only shot with cameras. Yes the guides had guns, just in case, but fortunately they were not fired.

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