A polar bear was killed on Monday after it attacked a camping site on Norway’s remote Svalbard islands, injuring a French tourist.
The woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, was part of a tour group of 25 people who were camping in Svesleta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of mainland Norway. The camp site was located across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in North Pole Svalbard archipelago.
Authorities flew into the area by helicopter after receiving news of the attack shortly before 8:30, according to Schupte Stein Olaf Bridley.
“The French woman was shot in the arm. A frightened polar bear was shot away from the area. No further details of her injuries were released. The injured woman was taken by helicopter to hospital in Longyearbyen.”
The main Arctic archipelago newspaper, Svalbardposten, said the victim was a woman in her forties, and quoted local hospital official Solveig Jacobsen as saying the woman sustained minor injuries.
Bridl later told Svalbardposten that the animal had been “severely injured” and after a “professional evaluation” it was put down. It was not clear how he was killed.
Polar bear warnings are rife in Svalbard. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms. Polar bears have killed at least five people since the 1970s. The last time this happened was in 2020, when a 38-year-old Dutchman was murdered.
An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic.
In 2015, a polar bear pulled a Czech tourist from his tent while he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen, scratching his back before driving away with gunshots. The authorities later found the bear and killed it.
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