Animal Attack Files

Polar bear attacks tourists

Monday 10 August 1998

A POLAR bear has been shot dead after it attacked a camp housing 17 tourists and glacier researchers off Norway's northern coast.

The three-year-old animal, weighing 282lb, first appeared at the camp in the Hornsund national park in southern Spitsbergen on Friday evening but was scared off by warning shots. It reappeared in the early hours of Saturday morning, scavenging for food in the mess tent.

Two camp members fired warning shots but the bear rushed at one of them. Both men fired at it, killing it instantly.

Rune Hansen, the region's acting district governor, said: "It was very thin. You have to be careful with such a hungry young male. It had just been abandoned by its mother and had not yet learned to fear people."

Polar bears are protected in the region and it is illegal to shoot them unless lives are in immediate danger.

In 1994, a Norwegian woman was mauled to death by a polar bear and two other people were killed in 1995. Other non-fatal attacks have also occurred.

Since 1996, tourists visiting the region have received a brochure warning them of polar bears and the governor's office advises tourists to carry a rifle and a signal pistol.

© Copyright Telegraph Group Limited 1998

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