Polar bear attacks tent in Norway's Arctic, injures tourist

AP News
Posted: Mar 19, 2015 2:43 PM
Polar bear attacks tent in Norway's Arctic, injures tourist

LONGYEARBYEN, Norway (AP) — A polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he slept on a remote Arctic island, clawing his back before being driven away by gunshots.

"It was going for my head. I used my hands to protect my head," Jakub Moravec told The Associated Press from his hospital bed in the Svalbard archipelago's main town. He turned over to reveal shallow gashes on his back.

Moravec was among a group of six on a combined ski and snow scooter trip on the remote islands more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of the Norwegian mainland. The group was camping north of Longyearbyen. The attack happened as thousands of tourists descended on Svalbard and the Faeroe Islands ahead of a rare total solar eclipse on Friday.

Moravec told local media he was fine and hoped to be out of the hospital later Thursday. No one else was injured in the attack.

Zuzana Hakova, a member of the group sleeping in a different tent, told local newspaper Svalbardposten that her mother shot three times at the bear, prompting the animal to flee. The bear was eventually found and killed by authorities, said police spokesman Vidar Arnesen.

To Aksel Bilicz, manager of the Longyearbyen hospital, the incident was a reminder of the dangers of the Arctic.

"I think there's been a tendency, even before the eclipse, that a lot of people come here and they don't know where they're going,"Bilicz told the AP. "Both the weather conditions and the bears can be very dangerous."

Lodging on Svalbard has been sold out for years ahead of the eclipse. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms while moving outside of settlements.

Moravec said the bear attack hadn't turned him off the beauties of the Arctic.

"I'd gladly go out to the mountains on Svalbard again," he was quoted as saying by Svalbardposten.