Polar bear devour 38-year-old man in Norway

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A polar bear has killed a man in Norway’s Arctic Spitsbergen island, local officials say.

The attack occurred at a campsite near Longyearbyen, the main town of the island in the Svalbard archipelago.

People in the area shot the bear, which was found dead at the local airport.

Experts say polar bears’ hunting grounds have diminished as the Arctic ice sheet melts due to climate change, forcing them into populated areas as they try to find food.

The man, identified as 38-year-old Dutch citizen Johan Jacobus Kootte, was attacked in his tent before dawn on Friday and died shortly afterwards of his injuries.

Until now only five fatal attacks on humans by bears had been recorded on the islands in the last 50 years.

The most recent was in 2011, when a 17-year-old British student was killed and four others were injured during an expedition.

The archipelago is home to almost 3,000 people and almost 1,000 bears, according to the Norwegian authorities.

There has been increased human activity in recent years from tourism and scientific research, resulting in more contact with the animals.

Polar bears have been a protected species since 1973, and shooting them is only allowed in self-defence. However, people in Svalbard are advised to carry a weapon outside urban areas.

Across the Barents Sea, Russia’s Novaya Zemlya islands have reported several incidents involving bears in recent years.

In 2019, the main settlement, Belushya Guba, reported an invasion of as many as 52 bears, and in 2016 five Russian scientists were besieged for several weeks at a remote weather station on the island of Troynoy.

BBC

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