A polar bear has attacked a group of tourists on an arctic island off Norway, dragging one man from his tent and clawing his back before it was driven away.
Jakub Moravec, a Czech tourist, was with a group of five others on a skiing trip in the Svalbard archipelago when the attack took place, according to the Associated Press. Thousands of tourists have descended upon the islands ahead of a solar eclipse set to be visible from the region, and though the group had erected a fence around their camp, the polar bear still managed to gain access.
— The Sun (@TheSunNewspaper) March 19, 2015
Moravec recalled that he awoke to find the polar bear in his tent, immediately fighting to fend off the roving predator.
“It was going for my head. I used my hands to protect my head,” the 37-year-old recalled.
One of Moravec’s colleagues was able to frighten the bear off by shooting and injuring it, according to NBC News. The polar bear was later located and killed by regional authorities. Moravec was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Longyearbyen, where he is recuperating from his injuries. Noting that he only felt fear after the attack, Moravec asserted that he hoped to be released in time to view the eclipse on Friday morning.
— The Japan Times (@japantimes) March 19, 2015
Ronny Brunvoll, head of the local Visit Svalbard organization, described polar bear attacks as an “ever-present danger” in the archipelago, which is located north of mainland Europe. The region, which boasts a population of 2,500, is expecting an influx of an additional 2,000 people for the eclipse, which will only be viewable in totality from Svalbard and the Faroe Islands.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) March 19, 2015
Polar bears have proven to be one of the species hardest hit by the effects of climate change, whether through an erosion of their food sources or drastic change of habitat. As the Inquisitr previously reported, Canadian populations of polar bears are being driven further north by rising temperatures, taking up a permanent residency that some observers believe could lead to harmful isolation and inbreeding.
Svalbard authorities have warned tourists not only of the danger from polar bears, but also from frigid temperatures, set to fall below zero on Friday.
[Image via Twitter/ Sky News]