A polar bear was euthanized in Norway on Monday after officials said it injured a French woman who was camping in the country's remote Svalbard Islands.
The woman, who was not identified, was part of a tour group of 25 people camping at Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, which is located some 800 kilometres (500 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland. Police Chief Superintendent Stein Olav Bredli told Norwegian outlets Svalbard Posten and NRK that the polar bear entered the woman's tent and attacked her.
Woman Suffered Non-Life-Threatening Injuries
The woman, who is in her 40s but was not immediately identified, received non-life-threatening injuries to her arm and was flown to a hospital.
The campsite was located across a fjord. The attack happened on Monday morning. "The French woman suffered injuries to an arm. Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area," said Bredli.
Further details on the woman's injuries were not disclosed. She was flown by helicopter to the hospital in Longyearbyen.The bear was shot at in an attempt to scare it away from the area and was later located by the authorities. Bredli later told Svalbardposten that the animal had been "badly injured" in the shooting and following "a professional assessment" it was put to sleep.
Polar Bear Attacks in the Past
A polar bear wanders on sea ice in the Arctic. Scientists say that polar bears don't usually attack humans unless they are threatened or, sometimes, hungry. Bredli told the Svalbard Posten that recent encounters with polar bears serve as an important reminder that the animals are dangerous.
Polar bear attacks have previously been reported in the arctic archipelago, which lies halfway between Norway and the North Pole. It is not the first time a tourist has been attacked by polar bears on the archipelago. In March 2021, a polar bear was euthanized after attacking and injuring a man, as reported by NRK.
In August 2020, 38-year-old Johan Jacobs Koote from the Netherlands lost his life when a polar bear attacked his tent at the campsite in Longyearbyen. Since 1971, six people have been killed by polar bears on the archipelago.