A polar bear killed a man in the Norwegian Arctic Svalbard islands on Friday, authorities said. This is the first such deadly incident in nine years.
The man was a foreign national and was attacked at a camping site in the pre-dawn hours.
“The bear was shot at by people on site and walked towards the airport, which is nearby,” Svalbard Deputy Governor Soelvi Elvedahl said in a statement.
The bear was later found dead in the airport’s parking lot.
The Svalbard archipelago is halfway between the northern tip of Europe and the North Pole. Its snow-capped mountains and glaciers is home to 2,939 people and 975 polar bears.
Polar bears are a protected species and shooting them is allowed only for self-defence and as a last resort.
Outside Svalbard’s main settlements, people are obliged by law to carry the means to scare the animals away or defend themselves, with authorities recommending they take a gun.
The islands are seeing increased activity, mainly from tourism and scientific research, and encounters between humans and animals are increasing. In addition, the Arctic ice sheet is shrinking, reducing the amount of space polar bear can roam on.