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Svalbard, Land of the Polar Bear


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Svalbard is a very easy place to get to and a wonderful place to visit but there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

Polar Bears!

Polar bears are dangerous and you should be aware of that, there is about 5000 polar bears in the Svalbard area.

Most of the bears prefer the east coast of Svalbard, but there is a polar bear hazard all over the island. For example, in 1995 a young girl was eaten by a polar bear just minutes away from Longyearbyen.

The best defense from bears is a rifle (pistol NOT recommended), however there are additional steps suggested for defending yourself from a polar bear attack.

Make sure you always have a rifle when you are outside of Longyearbyen. 30-.06 or larger is recommended (shotgun with slugs will work also).

The best way to carry the rifle is stated "half-loaded" (full clip, empty chamber, firing pin released). Remember to unload the gun while in the city limits as it may be against the local law or ordinance.

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If you are approached by a polar bear, you should fire a warning shot. if the bear continues it's pursuit, kill the bear otherwise you may be killed.

If you are planning to sleep in a tent, use trip wires with alarm mines around your tents to prevent the polar bear to approach without notice. A dog can also be of benefit.

You can rent all the polar bear defense equipment in Longyearbyen and you don't need any license to rent a rifle.

If you want to know more about Polar Bears read the brochure "polar bears" from Norsk Polarinstitutt

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