There has been a bit of buzz lately on the internet about a job advert offered in Svalbard. The advert reads: Assignment as a Polar Bear Spotter. Unfortunately numerous English language posts fail to see the seriousness of the job.
The news reports make a farce out of the unusual job offer but, in fact, the position is a necessary post for Svarbard.
Knowing the real dangers of such a job, the Norwegian reports are a little less jovial: Nordlys
There are only 2600 people living on the archipelago and about 3000 polar bears. When venturing outside the settlements it is a requirement to either carry a rifle or have a trained spotter with you, who carries a rifle.
There is a real danger in the Svalbard wilderness. Two years ago a raging polar bear attacked a youth camp with British teenagers. One 17 year old was killed and four others serverly injured. A survivor of the attack said ‘I heard a crushing sound which later turned out to be my skull as the polar bear locked its jaws around my head’. He managed to get away by punching with bare fists in the polar bear’s face (normally you wear gloves in the Arctic). Both the tour guides were injured in the attack but one of them managed to get his rifle and shot and killed the polar bear.
In March this year a polar bear was shot while trying to break into a cabin. Just two weeks ago a polar bear attacked a dog team near the sound tip of Svalbard. No one was injured but the polar bear was shot at point blank range. So the job is actually life threatening and requires more than someone with a ‘loud voice’ to scare off the bears, as said to be quoted from the Governor of Svalbard in the news articles.
As there will be a research party documenting the hunting cabins around Hornsund, which is outside the safe area, an experienced polar bear spotter is needed. The job requires someone with experience with outdoors and recreation in Svalbard, experience with polar bears and weapons and satisfactory conduct (meaning no drinking during the watch). The job is only for three weeks over summer.
So before you apply to your dream get-away summer job in the exotic Arctic with cuddly polar bears, make sure you are armed guard material that can fight against the world’s largest land predator.
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