Home North pole ice A tourist attacked by a polar bear in the Norwegian Arctic

A tourist attacked by a polar bear in the Norwegian Arctic

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A Frenchwoman was injured on Monday by a polar bear that entered her camp in the Svalbard archipelago in the Norwegian Arctic, but her injuries are not life-threatening, authorities said.

The woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, was part of an expedition of 25 people camping outdoors in the territory twice the size of Belgium, just over 1,000 kilometers from the North Pole.

“A bear entered a camping area this morning around 8:30 a.m. and injured a French woman in the arm,” local police chief Stein Olav Bredli told AFP.

“His life is not in danger,” he said.

The woman was evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Longyearbyen, the main town of the archipelago.

“It is a woman in her 40s who was slightly injured,” hospital authority spokeswoman Solveig Jacobsen told AFP.

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The exact circumstances of the incident have not been disclosed.

“Shots were fired at the polar bear, which got scared and left the scene,” Bredli said.

The animal was later located and put down, due to the extent of its injuries.

In Svalbard, it is mandatory to carry a rifle outside of urban areas when encountering a polar bear. Males can weigh between 300 and 600 pounds, while females are about half that size.

A 2015 count puts the number of polar bears on Svalbard at around 1,000. The animals have been a protected species since 1973.

About 300 of them live all year round in the archipelago. Some returned to the western part of the territory – the most populated area – where they were decimated while still allowed to be hunted.

Six people have been killed in polar bear attacks on the archipelago since 1971, the most recent in 2020 involving a 38-year-old Dutchman.

Shrinking sea ice caused by global warming is depriving polar bears of their favorite food, seals, causing them to approach populated areas in search of other food sources, experts say.