Polar bear killed after injuring tourist on Norway’s Svalbard Islands

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 authorities said the woman was part of a tour group of 25 people camping at Sveasletta, in the central part of the Svalbard archipelago, more than 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland.

The campsite is across a fjord from Longyearbyen, the main settlement in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago.Authorities responded to the news of the attack, which came shortly before 8:30 am, by flying there in a helicopter, chief superintendent Stein Olav Bredli said.

“The French woman suffered injuries to an arm. Shots were fired at the polar bear, which was scared away from the area,” he said.

The unidentified woman, who was reportedly in her 40s, was flown by helicopter to the hospital in Longyearbyen, but further details of her injuries weren’t disclosed.

Mr Bredil later told Norwegian paper Svalbardposten that the animal has been “badly injured” and following “a professional assessment” it was put to sleep. It was unclear exactly how it was killed.

Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears, with visitors who choose to sleep outdoors being told by authorities to carry firearms for protection. 

At least five people have been killed by polar bears since the 1970s. 

In 2011, Horatio Chapple, a British teenager was killed and 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 yet been introduced.