One of the most feared predators on Earth, the mighty polar bear is most commonly sighted within Svalbard’s northern fjords, where it finds perfect conditions for hunting ringed seals, its main food source. The bears can smell a carcass from up to 32 kilometers (20 miles) away and also regularly feast on dead walrus. Though the beasts are dangerous to humans, killing a polar bear on Svalbard is illegal and their presence here—1,500 strong—is seriously protected. Travelers who venture anywhere in the region (except the town of Longyearbyen) are required to review protocols and take adequate precautions.

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