Polar bear kills British student camping in Norway

August 5, 2011

One person died and four were wounded after a campsite was attacked by a polar bear at the Von Postbreen glacier in Tempelfjorden. (Arild Lyssand/AFP/Getty Images)

The victims were camping on the Svalbard archipelago as part of an ad­ven­ture trip run by the British Schools Exploring Society. The area is home to 3,000 polar bears, the Associated Press reported, and food is scarce for the animals during the summer.

Officials said 17-year-old Horatio Chapple was killed. According to the BSES, Chapple was planning to become a doctor.

The bear was shot and killed by another member of the expedition.

Visitors to the area are advised to bring weapons for protection, a spokeswoman for the Svalbard governor’s office told the AP. She said the office also advises visitors to use tripwire, which sets off a flare when disturbed, around their campsites. It was not clear on Friday whether the British campers had taken that precaution.

Last year, a kayaker was attacked by a polar bear in Svalbard, according to Discovery News. Two people were killed in the area in 1995, the last known fatal attacks.

Polar bear attacks are uncommon because people rarely venture into their habitats. The bears prefer to hunt seals, an easier target.

Unlike brown bears and grizzlies, polar bears are not territorial. But they could attack if they are hungry.

Late last month, a group of seven American teens on an ad­ven­ture trip in the Alaskan wilderness were attacked by a grizzly bear. Four were injured, but all are expected to recover. Earlier in July, a man was killed by a grizzly in Yellowstone National Park.

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