Polar bear attacks woman on Norwegian island

Visitors sleeping outdoors in the area have received stern warnings from Norwegian authorities that people must carry firearms to ward off bears.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A polar bear attacked a campsite in Norway’s remote arctic Svalbard Mountains on Monday, injuring a French tourist, authorities said, adding that the wounds were not life-threatening. The bear was later killed.

The unidentified woman was part of a tour group of 25 people camped in Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of mainland Norway. The campsite was across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement of the arctic Svalbard archipelago.

Authorities responded to news of the attack, which came just before 8:30 a.m., by flying there in a helicopter, Chief Superintendent Stein Olav Bredli.

“The Frenchwoman sustained injuries to her arm. Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was driven out of the area,” he said. Further details about her injuries were not disclosed. She was flown to the hospital in Longyearbyen by helicopter.

The Arctic archipelago’s main newspaper, Svalbardposten, said the victim was a woman in her 40s, and quoted local hospital official Solveig Jacobsen as saying the woman suffered minor injuries.

Bredil later told Svalbardposten that the animal was “severely injured” and euthanized after “a professional assessment”. It is unclear how it was killed.

Svalbard is riddled with polar bear warnings. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors are receiving stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms. At least five people have been killed by polar bears since the 1970s. In 2011 a British teenager was killed and the last time a fatal polar bear was reported on Svalbard was in 2020 when a 38-year-old Dutchman was killed.

After this attack, there was debate about whether people should be allowed to camp in tents, but no ban was passed.

Some residents of Svalbard, home to more than 2,500 people, want a 24-hour polar bear watch, while others advocate killing any bears that come close to humans.

From 2009 to 2019, 14 polar bears were shot, said the Norwegian broadcaster NRK. An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic.

In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent when he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen, scratching his back before being dispelled by gunfire. The bear was later found and killed by authorities.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/woman-hurt-by-polar-bear/507-a98011cd-18e6-4fc3-8232-ac5cc5ea76ba Polar bear attacks woman on Norwegian island

Alley Einstein

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