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Visitors bring trouble to Norway's polar bears

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 01:10

Officials in Norway say an increasing number of visitors to their Arctic region have triggered an increase in the number of endangered polar bears killed. Diane Hodges reports on efforts to protect the bears.

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These visitors are enjoying the dramatic scenery of Norway's remote Arctic islands. In July, tourism to Svalbard was up 14-percent over the previous year. But more people also means more contact with one of the local residents---polar bears. And despite the bears' fearsome reputation, when humans and bears square off, the bears usually lose. Svalbard police say four bears have been shot already this year. Normally, only one or two would be shot in an entire year. One of the bears was killed by a group of tourists from Finland. Another was found dead near the campsite of a group of researchers. In addition to the increasing visitors, global warming is melting the ice where the bears normally live. Since their habitat is literally shrinking, the bears are forced into closer contact with permanent residents. Polar bears are a protected species in Norway and shooting them is allowed only for self-defense. Local officials are working to educate visitors on how to protect themselves from the bears... In hopes of protecting the bears... from the people.

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Visitors bring trouble to Norway's polar bears

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 01:10