Polar bear mauls tourist after wandering onto campsite in search of food

A tourist was left injured after she was mauled by a polar bear that found itself on her group's campsite on an Arctic Norwegian island.

The woman was part of a 25-person group who had set up camp at across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in the remote Svalbard archipelago more than 500 miles north of Norway's mainland.

Authorities attended the scene in a helicopter, taking the woman to hospital in Longyearbyen.

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Her injuries were determined not to be life-threatening, but authorities have not disclosed further details about the nature of her wounds after she was attacked by the biggest land carnivore.

However local newspaper Svalbardposten further revealed the victim, in her forties, was "slightly injured", according to hospital official Solveig Jacobsen.

Chief Superintendent Stein Olav Bredli said: "The French woman suffered injuries to an arm. Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area."

He continued to say the polar was injured and that "our people on site are considering what to do with it".

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The woman was lucky – polar bear attacks can be fatal and at least five people have been killed by them since the 1970s.

Most recently a Dutchman named Johan Jacobus Kootte, who was also camping near Longyearbyen in Svalbard, died as a result of his injuries after a polar bear seriously wounded him.

The bear was later found dead after locals shot it down in a car park near the settlement's airport.

In 2011, 17-year-old Brit Horatio Chapple was mauled to death in Svalbard by a polar bear during a school trip.

The Svalbard archipelago is about 650 miles from the North Pole, and it is therefore not uncommon to see polar bears there – as of 2021, there are about 300 polar bears living in Svalbard, and they are one of the region's most popular tourist attractions.

Campers who want to travel outside of the major settlements on the group of islands must be equipped with means to scare off the bears as a result, and it is also recommended that they carry firearms in case a polar bear approaches.


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