It is now considered likely that there never was a polar bear in north Iceland last weekend, and that the tracks found were actually from a kayaker.
As reported, Italian tourists reportedly took photos of a polar bear near Vatnsnes, in north Iceland. Tracks were also reportedly found, and a search was conducted by the Coast Guard. A helicopter with a sniper was deployed, and police advised residents in the area to be careful about going outside.
However, days of searching turned up no polar bear, and it was theorised that the animal had taken to the water and swam back to Greenland. It is now believed that there never was a polar bear, RÚV reports.
Zoologist Karl Skírnisson told reporters that while authorities were right to act quickly to reports, they should have contacted animal experts as well. The photos the tourists took were likely of seals, and polar bears do not dive under the water for long lengths of time, as the bear reportedly did.
Furthermore, the tracks spotted – originally reported as “obviously from a polar bear” – probably have a more mundane cause: kayakers.
Morgunblaðið reports that when kayaker Árni Björn Stefánsson saw the reported tracks and their location, he knew at once that what was being shown were the marks left behind by him when he went kayaking in the area. He said he contacted police in the area immediately to tell them their mistake.
People living in the area can now breathe a little easier, knowing that there is no polar bear wandering the vicinity – for now.