If you have been following my blog for sometime you will know that earlier this year I spent some time north of Longyearbyen in Svalbard photographing Polar Bears and other wildlife during the Arctic winter. One of the Polar Bears I photographed was very sadly shot dead only a few days after I made the image below as a direct result of irresponsible tourist behaviour (you can read my original post on the shooting). At the time this occurred I was extremely upset by the stupidity of the behaviour that led to the death of this bear. Not only was it an unnecessary shooting, but it was also completely avoidable. Local guides and visitors were aware the bear was hunting in the area where the camp had been set up. There has been an ongoing investigation into the tragedy and the findings have now been released by the Governor of Svalbard. I was very pleased to learn late last night that for the first time in Norwegian history a person has been fined for putting both people and polar bears in danger in Svalbard.
“For the first time in Norwegian history, a person gets fined for having put people and bears in danger on Svalbard.”
“There are questions about the required safeguards. We feel that they had not. They did not have a guard/watch, and they had only one activated tripwire placed so high that the bear could go under, said deputy Sysselmann, Jens Olav Sæther, NRK.”
“The decision is evaluated against the new penal provision to Svalbard Environmental Act of 2012. “
Although I am still upset by the unnecessary death of this bear I am pleased to hear that a fine of $10,000 dollars has been levied against those deemed responsible. A precedent has now been set that it is not ok to act irresponsibly in Svalbard in the domain of Polar Bears. You can read the full report ONLINE.
6 thoughts on “Svalbard Governor fines Tourists for Death of Polar Bear”
This is a great outcome considering the sad circumstances. Big thumbs up!
Great news Joshua. It’s still upsetting that the polar bear was shot though.
Whilst nothing can balance the loss of life, this decision seems to go some way towards justice. I hope this will make others think and act responsibly when in polar bear areas.
I read your earlier blog and was shocked how irresponsible these people were. Its arrogance too, seeing themselves as having all the rights of the area and no consideration or respect for the wildlife that had been there long before them. I am pleased to hear this result.
It will be interesting to see if this is an opportunistic slap-in-the-face by an institution that is rather impotent in the big picture of polar bear protection, or an indication that a new policy is gradually being sought. A policy where ultimately perhaps even a Norwegian can be held responsible for causing damage/death to a polar bear, where perhaps ultimately non-lethal deterrence (pepper spray) is legalized, and where ultimately fool-hardy tourist and adventurist undertakings (including tenting on polar bear beaches) are not granted permission by the very same governor.
Unfortunatelly they have to pay not 10.000 dollars but 10.000 NRK and that is ridiculous:-(