Man killed by polar bear in Norway’s Arctic Svalbard islands

The Longyearbyen camp site after a polar bear attack
The Longyearbyen camp site Friday after a polar bear attacked the site and killed a man in Norway’s remote Svalbard Islands in the Arctic.
(Line Nagell Ylvisaker / NTB scanpix)

A polar bear attacked a camping site and killed a foreign national in Norway’s remote Svalbard Islands on Friday, authorities said, adding that the animal was killed.

The man was taken to the hospital in Longyearbyen, where he was declared dead by doctors, Deputy Gov. Soelvi Elvedah said. Longyearbyen is the main settlement in Norway’s Arctic Svalbard archipelago, which sits more than 500 miles north of the Norwegian mainland.

The attack occurred just before 4 a.m. and was being investigated, the governor’s office said. The victim’s identity and citizenship weren’t immediately given. No one else was injured, but six people were hospitalized for shock.


An autopsy will be conducted at the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle.

The polar bear was found dead in a parking lot by the nearby airport after being shot by onlookers, the governor’s office said in a statement posted on its website.

It wasn’t clear whether the polar bear was one of two to have roamed the area this week, the governor’s office said.

The heating of the planet is pushing Earth’s polar bear population to its limit, and according to a new study they could have fewer than 100 years left before extinction.

July 21, 2020

The website says bears may appear anywhere on Svalbard and urges people “to stay as far away as possible to avoid situations that could be dangerous for you and for the bear.” An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 bears live in the Arctic.

Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms while moving outside settlements.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK said the victim was the fifth person to have been killed by polar bears since 1971. The last time it happened was in 2011 when a British teenager was killed.


In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen, clawing the man’s back before being driven away by gunshots. The tourist, who was slightly injured, was among a group of six people on a combined ski and snow scooter trip on the remote islands.

That bear was eventually found and killed by local authorities.