Polar bear killed after injuring woman at Svalbard campsite | Arctic

A polar bear has been killed after it attacked a campsite in Norway’s remote Arctic Svalbard Islands on Monday, injuring a French tourist.

The woman, who was not identified, was part of a tour group of 25 people who were camping at Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, more than 800km (500 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland. The campsite was located across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago.

Authorities flew to the area in a helicopter after receiving news of the attack shortly before 8.30am, according to Ch Supt 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. Further details on her injuries were not disclosed. The injured woman was flown by helicopter to the 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 that the woman was slightly injured.

Bredil later told Svalbardposten that the animal has been “badly injured” and following “a professional assessment” it was put down. It was unclear how it was killed.

Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms. At least five people have been killed by polar bears since the 1970s. The last time it happened was in 2020, when a 38-year-old Dutch man was killed.

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.

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