A polar bear attacked a campsite Monday in Norway's remote Arctic Svalbard Islands, injuring a French tourist, per the AP. Her wounds weren't life-threatening, and the bear was later killed. The woman, who wasn't identified, was part of a tour group of 25 people camping at Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, which sits more than 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland. The campsite was located across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago.
"The French woman suffered injuries to an arm," said Stein Olav Bredli, the police's chief superintendent. "Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area," he said. It wasn't clear whether the bear was hit or if that was how it was killed. The woman, in her 40s, was airlifted to a hospital. Svalbard visitors who choose to sleep outdoors as she did receive stern warnings from authorities, who suggest that campers carry firearms. At least five people have been killed by polar bears since the 1970s.
The last time a fatal polar bear mauling was reported on Svalbard was in 2020, when a 38-year-old Dutchman was killed. Following that attack, there was a debate as to whether people should be allowed to camp in tents, but no ban has been decided. Some residents in Svalbard, home to more than 2,500 people, want a round-the-clock polar bear watch, while others advocate killing all bears that get close to humans. From 2009 to 2019, 14 polar bears were shot, Norwegian broadcaster NRK said. An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic.
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