Several travelers had a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Arctic Norway earlier this year: seeing a polar bear in its natural habitat. The group was on a snowmobile expedition on the archipelago of Svalbard when they spotted a bear standing about 3,000 feet away. That’s when the guide made the decision to move closer to the animal so the tourists could get a better look.
This may sound like the start to some Man vs. Wild showdown. But in reality, the bear got startled by the guide’s movement and ran away. No harm done, right? Not according to Norway. The encounter cost the tour guide NOK 12,000 (about $1,541) in accordance with Svalbard’s strict laws.
“The regulations specifically state that it is forbidden to approach polar bears in such a way that they are disturbed, regardless of the distance,” the Svalbard governor’s office said in a statement to Norwegian TV channel TV2.
Svalbard is located halfway between mainland Europe and the North Pole, and is home to about 2,145 humans and 1,000 polar bears. The bears are considered a symbol of the archipelago and have been a protected species since 1973. (There have been five deadly attacks on people in about 40 years.) And while the bears continue to be one of the main tourist draws of the area, you better keep your distance—unless you’re willing to risk your life or have an extra $1,500 lying around, that is.