It is seldom we have drop-in guests at Isfjord Radio Adventure Hotel, but this morning we had a surprise! A polar bear had found his way through the garage and into the storage room looking for food. A situation like this is rare. We are used to polar bears visiting, but usually not inside the buildings.
The bear was first seen by our station manager Malin Stark in the early morning. The bear had entered through the garage and into the storage room. He had closed the door behind him leaving him with only a narrow window as his escape route.
“It got in through the garage door which it had completely demolished and then managed to close the door behind him when entering the drink storage… the big question is: how on earth did he manage to squeeze out of that tiny window!!!” – Malin Stark
Only a few days ago the staff at Isfjord Radio installed a new garage door, because the previous one had also been wrecked by a polar bear visiting in February.
Polar bear food
At Svalbard it does happen that polar bears break into small private cabins and supplies itself with store food. They are curious animals, and in addition to their traditional food they do not exclude a jar of jam or some chocolate. They usually leave a mess behind, which also happened this time at Isfjord Radio.
This year spring came early and seal hunting, which is its main source of food, is more challenging. It is also too early for bird eggs and the bear tries to find food wherever it can. When it finds food in one place it will usually stick around.
Where did he go?
The governor and the staff at Isfjord Radio have had a rotating bear watch to be prepared if the bear would find his way back, and he did. On Sunday evening the polar bear came back for a brief visit before Isfjord Radio staff managed to scare him off and he disappeared into the wilderness.
On Monday morning the governor on Svalbard searched the area with a helicopter and the bear could not be seen. A female bear with two cubs was sighted further south. The Basecamp staff observed her progress along the coastline and on a safe distance from the station she and her offspring got into the water and headed for Prins Karls Forland.
Only one time before have we heard about a polar breaking into a hotel. This was in Pyramiden a few years ago when the bear visited the bar. He entered and left by himself and with no harm.
This time at Isfjord Radio our guests and colleagues were at a safe distance and could watch the polar bear from the bathroom window. The bear filled up on chocolate and escaped through the small window just as the governor arrived.
“He looked to be in good health which is very nice to see!” -Malin Stark
Living in polar bear’s land
Waking up in the Arctic you just never know what the day will bring.
We choose to live and operate in the land of the Polar Bear, and it is normal to see them in the areas where we travel. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that you will see bears during your trip, but at the same time we need to be prepared at all time. They do tend to show up unexpected.