Norway fines tourist guide for scaring polar bear

A solitary male polar bear spotted during an Arctic voyage around the island of Spitsbergen, which forms part of the archipelago of Svalbard in Norway’s far north.
A solitary male polar bear spotted during an Arctic voyage around the island of Spitsbergen, which forms part of the archipelago of Svalbard in Norway’s far north.PHOTO: TAN CHUNG LEE

OSLO (AFP) - Usually, it is humans who are scared of wild animals. But in the Norwegian far-north, an Arctic tourist guide has been fined 1,300 euros (S$2,086) for scaring off a polar bear.

When a group of tourists on a snowmobile expedition in May spotted a bear standing still 900m away, their guide decided to approach the predator to take a closer look.

The animal, spotted on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, fled the scene.

"The regulations say that it is forbidden to approach polar bears in such a way that they are disturbed, regardless of the distance," the Svalbard governor's office said in a statement.

Located 1,600km from the North Pole and twice the size of Belgium, Svalbard is, according to 2015 state figures, home to nearly 1,000 polar bears, a protected species since 1973.

Five deadly attacks on people have been recorded in about 40 years.