A French tourist suffered minor injuries after a polar bear broke into a camp in Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, local authorities said Monday.
The woman was part of an expedition of 25 people who were staying in tents in the west of this territory, just over 1,000 kilometers from the North Pole.
“A bear entered a camp this morning around 8:30 a.m. (0630 GMT) and wounded a French woman in the arm,” local police chief Stein Olav Bredli told AFP. “His life is not in danger,” he added.
The tourist was evacuated by helicopter to the hospital in Longyearbyen, the main city of the archipelago.
“There were shots fired at the polar bear, which got scared and left the scene,” Bredli said.
The injured animal was later located by the authorities who, due to the magnitude of its injuries, finished it off.
In Svalbard, it is mandatory to carry a rifle when leaving urban communities to be prepared in the event of a chance encounter with a bear. Male bears weigh between 300 and 600 kilos and females half that.
According to a 2015 count, about 1,000 polar bears live in the Norwegian sector of the Arctic, a protected species since 1973.
Some 300 live year-round in the archipelago and some have relocated to the western part of the territory, where there is also a concentration of humans. They had disappeared from there when hunting was still allowed.
Since 1971 there have been six deadly bear attacks. The last one, in which a 38-year-old Dutchman died, was in 2020.
According to experts, the melting of glaciers due to global warming is depriving polar bears of their favorite hunting ground, where they feed on seals, and is pushing them closer to human-populated areas in search of food.