If you are on a journey in the far north, above the Arctic Circle in the land of polar bears, here is an important thing to know. Whatever you do, don’t approach the animal. First, it is dangerous, since polar bear is regarded as one of the most dangerous predator in the world. Second, approaching polar bears is forbidden, and you may get a hefty ticket for it.
A tourist guide on Svalbard island in Norway, which is renowned for its large polar bear population, has been fined 12000 kronor (1370 euros / 1540 dollars) because the guide scared off a polar bear in the distance.
Svalbard governor’s office said: “The regulations say that it is forbidden to approach polar bears in such a way that they are disturbed, regardless of the distance”. Polar bear is a protected species.
The guide was leading a tourist group that was exploring Svalbard on snowmobiles. The guide noticed a bear about 900 meters / 2900 feet away from the group, and decided to approach the animal for closer view. The bear, however, fled the approaching tourist group.
You are probably aware of this, but here is a quick reminder: there are no polar bears in the far north of continental Europe (Lapland), although the region is located north of the Arctic Circle. There are, however, plenty of reindeer, and other wild animals in Lapland – the last large wilderness of continental Europe. Svalbard island, on the other hand, is located so far off the continental Scandinavia (where the northernmost point is Nordkapp, North Cape) that Svalbard has an environment more like in Greenland.