A French tourist injured by a polar bear in Svalbard

French tourist injured by polar bear in Svalbard


A French tourist was injured by a polar bear that snuck into a camp on Norway's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, but her life is not in danger, the authorities said on Monday. local authorities.

The woman, whose identity has not been specified, was part of an expedition of 25 people who were staying in tents in the middle of nature in the west of this territory twice the size of Belgium, just over a thousand kilometers from the North Pole.

“A bear entered a camp this morning around 08:30 (06:30 GMT) and injured a French woman in the arm,” the bear told AFP. local police chief, Stein Olav Bredli.

“His life is not in danger,” he added.

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

“It is a woman in her forties who was slightly injured,” said spokeswoman for the hospital authorities, Solveig Jacobsen, told AFP.

The exact circumstances of the incident were not specified.

“Shots were aimed at the polar bear who was frightened and left the scene,” Bredli said.

The injured animal was later located by the authorities who, due to the extent of its injuries, finished it off.

In Svalbard, carrying a rifle is mandatory when leaving urban communities to be prepared in case of a chance encounter with a bear that weighs between 300 and 600 kg for males and half that for females.

According to a 2015 count, the Norwegian sector of the Arctic is home to a thousand polar bears, a species that has been protected since 1973.

Some 300 of them live all year round on the archipelago and some have resettled in the west of the territory – where also concentrates the human presence – where they had disappeared when hunting was still allowed.

Six fatal attacks on humans have been counted there since 1971. The last involving a 38-year-old Dutchman dates back to 2020.

According to experts, the retreat of sea ice due to global warming is depriving bears of their favorite hunting ground. vori, where they gorge themselves on seals, and pushes them to approach places populated by humans, in search of food.