Many outdoors people have dreamed about a far north vacation, seeing glaciers, icebergs, northern lights, seals, and maybe, from a distance, a great and mighty polar bear.
But for one unlucky French woman, this dream turned nightmare in a flash when her camp was attacked by one of nature’s most endangered, and most terrifying, creatures.
She was part of a 25-person tour group camping in Norway’s remote Svalbard Islands, 600 miles from the North Pole, when a polar bear made its move sometime before 8:30am, when authorities were alerted of the attack. The group fired shots at the bear to scare it off after it had grabbed a hold of the lady’s arm.
The bear was later found by the authorities and, after seeing it was already badly injured, made the decision to put the bear down.
The injures were described as “non-life threatening” by the Agence France-Presse and she was taken to the closest hospital in Longyearbyen for treatment.
The area is home to 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears, and while attacks are rare, they do happen, which is why all campers are told many times by guides and numerous signs that those camping outside are required to carry a firearm on them for reasons just like this one.
Thankfully, it seems she’s going to be okay, but man, that’s horrifying.
To be fair, I see both sides of the inevitable argument that’s going to arise from this.
She was camping in the bear’s habitat. We’ve been told for years how it’s harder and harder for the species to survive from a whole slew of issues, from shrinking ice caps to the influx of people to the region. It was probably hungry, saw some “meat” laying out in tents and decided to take a chance.
However, at the end of the day, I’m pretty solidly on Team Human and want people to have the ability to enjoy the great outdoors anywhere else they deem it worth taking the risk, whether camping in the Arctic, fishing in the Florida Everglades, swimming in the Australian ocean, or taking a safari on the African Serengeti… just as long as they’re not harming the wildlife.
Should the bear have been killed? Should she have been camping there?
Those are questions I don’t have the answer to, all I know is I’m extremely glad she was able to get out with her life.