A British youth group traveling in a remote region of Norway was attacked by a polar bear yesterday, leaving one dead and four others severely injured. The animal entered their camp while the group slept, and attacked the travelers inside their tents, before it was shot to death by one of the group’s leaders.
17-year old Horatio Chapple was one of 13 members of a BSES Expedition traveling along a glacier on the island of Spitsbergen, located in the Svalbard archipelago. He was sharing a tent with two other boys when the bear attacked, fatally wounding him. The animal then turned on other campers, before it was killed as well. Chapple was already dead by the time a rescue team could reach them, but the other four victims were air lifted to a hospital.
The BSES is an organization that works with young people in the U.K. in an effort to introduce them to the outdoors and encourage an active lifestyle. The group helps the youth to build confidence, while also educating them about the impact of climate change on our planet. This particular BSES expedition was part of a larger group of 80 that were spending five weeks on the island.
As the ice in the Arctic Ocean retreats, polar bears have been forced into smaller habitats, which has brought them increasingly in contact with humans. This team came to Spitsbergen not only armed with guns, but also a safety system designed to give them an early warning if a bear should approach. At this time, it’s not known if that system went off, but no one noticed, or if it failed altogether.
Two of the survivors of the attack are said to be in serious condition in a university hospital in Tromso, Norway.