A French woman has been mauled by a polar bear which had wandered into her tour group’s campsite on a remote Norwegian Arctic island.
The tourist was part of a tour group of 25 people camping at Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, more than 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland.
The campsite is across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in the Svalbard archipelago.
Authorities responded to the news of the attack by flying out in a helicopter, according to chief superintendent Stein Olav Bredli.
‘The French woman suffered injuries to an arm. Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area,’ he said.
Authorities said the woman’s injuries were not life-threatening but further details were not disclosed. She was flown by helicopter to hospital in Longyearbyen.
The main newspaper on the Arctic archipelago, Svalbardposten, said the victim was a woman in her 40s, and quoted local hospital official Solveig Jacobsen as saying she was slightly injured.
Mr Bredli said the polar bear was injured and ‘our people on site are considering what to do with it’.
Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms.
At least five people have been killed by polar bears since the 1970s, most recently in 2020 when a 38-year-old Dutch man was killed.
Johan Jacobus Kootte was killed during the night while he was lying in his tent in a camping area near the town Longyearbyen, on the island of Svalbard, which is 800 miles from the North Pole.
The 38-year-old was seriously wounded during the attack and died soon after.
The bear was then found dead in a car park near the airport having been shot by locals.
An estimated 20,000-25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic.
In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen, clawing his back before being driven away by gunshots.
The bear was later found and killed by authorities.
This article by Jack Newman was first published by The Daily Mail on 8 August 2022. Lead Image: A French woman has been mauled by a polar bear which had wandered into her tour group’s campsite on a remote Norwegian Arctic island (file image of a polar bear in Svalbard).
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