Hrefna Björg Gudmundsdóttir, an X-ray technician from Saudárkrókur, north Iceland, says she is certain of having spotted the third polar bear to arrive in Iceland in one month yesterday while walking with her sister-in-law near Bjarnarvötn lakes on Skagi peninsula.
“We became frightened immediately, but we were even more scared after we returned home. Then we began imagining what would have happened if the polar bear had noticed us. It would probably have caught us straight away,” Gudmundsdóttir told Fréttabladid.
“We were on top of Bjarnarfell when we saw a white clump move but only in the same spot. We immediately became frightened and didn’t dare walk any closer but found a better way and ran down to our car by the lake. When we had come down from the heath the polar bear stood up and walked up the slope away from us,” Gudmundsdóttir said.
Gudmundsdóttir and her sister-in-law, Hallfrídur Sverrisdóttir, took a picture of the alleged polar bear before they drove away but it is rather unclear and only shows a white blur. “There is no doubt in my mind that it was a polar bear. It was evident by the color, the texture and the way it moved heavily.”
Gudmundsdóttir called the emergency service as soon as she was back in her house. “The policemen came and looked at the pictures we took of the animal in the computer. They immediately thought there was a reason to look into this.”
Following Gudmundsdóttir’s and Sverrisdóttir’s eyewitness accounts, a Coast Guard helicopter was called out and searched the area where they thought they had seen the bear. When the search didn’t deliver any results the search area was extended.
Yesterday afternoon, search from air was called off and eight men looked for the animal on foot. Some of them were carrying guns. At the time of Fréttabladid’s publication, the alleged polar bear was still unfound.
Chief constable in Saudárkrókur, Stefán Vagn Stefánsson, said the to women’s eyewitness accounts were very believable and Thorsteinn Saemundsson, director of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, said judging by the pictures they took the animal they spotted is larger than a sheep.
Mbl.is reported this morning that the search team has not found any polar bear tracks, only sheep, leading police to assume that they women may have spotted a lone sheep after all.
Gudmundsdóttir’s and Sverrisdóttir’s picture shows the exact spot where the alleged polar bear was located and despite the ground being moist no paw prints from a bear were found, which according to the police’s estimate should have been there.
The search has therefore been called off.
In light of news of a possible third polar bear, metal works company Hédinn offered to build polar bear cages for Iceland, Fréttabladid reports.
According to Hédinn, which sent the offer to the Ministry of the Environment’s new task force on polar bear issues, the company is capable of constructing an improved version of the Danish polar bear cage, which was sent to the country when the second polar bear swam ashore on Skagi.
The specially-imported Danish polar bear cage has been criticized for its poor construction.
Click here to read about an unfruitful search for polar bears on Sunday.