So I go to the gym for a few laps on the treadmill — and what happens? A POLAR BEAR happens!
It was spotted in Þistilfjörður [or Thistilfjördur, if you prefer] by a local farmer. It then disappeared but was located a couple of hours later near a flock of sheep. It was shot by hunters as soon as it was found again.
Þistilfjörður is in north-east Iceland, right near the tip.
The decision to shoot the bear was reportedly based on three factors: safety reasons, size of the polar bear stock [huh? I thought they were becoming endangered] and the cost associated with capture. Apparently conditions in the area were far from ideal to attempt a rescue.
Some readers may recall that, in 2008, there were two polar bears sighted here in Iceland, both of which were shot. A lot of discussion arose at the time as to how humane that response had been, and a major rescue operation was launched for the second bear. In the end, however, it was shot, for safety reasons as I recall.
Some people have been wondering at the frequency of these sightings and speculate that it may have something to do with the polar ice melting. I heard an expert on the radio a short while ago who did not particularly support that view, who was more of the opinion that this was a fluke, determined by ice floes and wind direction and suchlike. Still. It does seem a bit odd to have three bear sightings in less than two years.