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Home → August, 2011

Monthly Archives: August 2011 − News & Stories


Polar bear attack in Tem­pel­fjord III

The polar bear that has atta­cked the Eng­lish camp in Tem­pel­fjord, lea­ving one 17-year young man dead and seve­ral ones inju­red, was an old, mal-nutrio­ned ani­mal that suf­fe­r­ed from seve­re tooth­ache. Accor­ding to spe­cia­lists, it is unknown if pain makes bears more aggres­si­ve but it is safe to assu­me that star­ving bears are likely to be more dan­ge­rous than well-fed ones.

What is known is that all tech­ni­cal safe­ty means fai­led to work in Tem­pel­fjord: The alarm fence did not trig­ger, and both signal pis­tol and rif­le fai­led as well.

The issue of the alarm fence has been mat­ter of deba­te for some time, regar­ding both relia­bli­ty and avai­la­bi­li­ty. The best sys­tem is of mili­ta­ry ori­gin, but soon out of stock in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Retail­ers and Sys­sel­man­nen have tried to get access to more sup­pli­es, but so far wit­hout suc­cess.

The ques­ti­on is why the rif­le fai­led during the first four attempts to fire it. One opti­on is incor­rect hand­ling of the safe­ty pin. Next to the posi­ti­ons »safe« and »fire«, rif­les of the type Mau­ser, as the one used in Tem­pel­fjord, have a third posi­ti­on, which allows to repeat, but not to fire. If the safe­ty pin was acci­den­tal­ly in this posi­ti­on, then any attempt to fire and repeat would only result in emp­ty­ing the magasi­ne wit­hout actual­ly firing, as hap­pen­ed in the camp. If this is the reason for what hap­pen­ed, is at the pre­sent time spe­cu­la­ti­ve.

Only when an alre­a­dy inju­red group lea­der mana­ged to find one of the car­tridges on the ground and re-loa­ded the rif­le, he mana­ged to shoot the bear with one shot from a clo­se distance, thus pre­ven­ting even grea­ter dama­ge.

Rif­les for polar bear pro­tec­tion. Mau­sers midd­le and right.

Polar bear attack in Tempelfjord III - Rifles for polar bear protection.

Dead­ly Polar bear attack II

The fatal attack of a polar bear that led to the death of a 17-year old on Fri­day (August 05) took place in the ear­ly mor­ning hours while the group was still asleep, thus coming as a total sur­pri­se. The very aggres­si­ve bear atta­cked a tent (seve­ral ones?), kil­ling one per­son and inju­ring ano­ther four, two out of the­se serious­ly in the face.

The bear was a male weig­hing 250 kg.

Next to shock and the sad­ness about the loss of a per­son, the ques­ti­on of how the dead­ly attack could hap­pen remains to be ans­we­red. We need to wait until fur­ther details will be published befo­re final con­clu­si­ons can be drawn regar­ding the situa­ti­on and its impli­ca­ti­ons for risk assess­ment and safe­ty mea­su­res.

Gene­ral­ly spea­king, when cam­ping in polar bear coun­try it is important:

  • put up a trip wire (alarm fence) around the camp with suf­fi­ci­ent distance from the tents. A cor­rect set­up is important to make the sys­tem work well. You should, howe­ver, bear in mind that this tech­ni­cal mea­su­re is known to have fai­led befo­re and bears have been seen just step­ping over or kree­ping under the wire.
  • it is bet­ter to have a polar dog (sledge dog) who will warn you in case a polar bear is approa­ching the camp during the night.
  • or to keep careful watch night watch, if the group size allows this.
  • avo­id cam­ping at expo­sed sites such as near the shore or on small islands.
  • food, espe­ci­al­ly fresh items and meat, should not be stored insi­de tents.
  • even if all safe­ty mea­su­res are careful­ly and cor­rect­ly appli­ed, a small risk will always remain as always in life. Cam­ping in polar bear coun­try will never be com­ple­te­ly risk-free, just taking part in car traf­fic whe­re it is com­mon to accept a (small) remai­ning risk that can­not be con­trol­led by the indi­vi­du­al.

Cam­ping in polar bear coun­try. The risk of a poten­ti­al­ly dan­ge­rous polar bear visit can be mini­mi­zed, but never redu­ced to abso­lu­te zero.

Deadly Polar bear attack II - Camping in polar bear country

P.S. last offi­ci­al state­ments con­firm that the alarm mines did not explo­de when the polar bear ente­red the camp. So far, the reason for this is unknown.

Dead­ly polar bear attack in Tem­pel­fjord

In the ear­ly mor­ning of August 05, the­re has been a tra­gi­cal polar bear attack on a group of peo­p­le in Tem­pel­fjord. For the first time sin­ce 1996, a per­son was kil­led, ano­ther four were inju­red. The inju­red peo­p­le are bet­ween 16 and 29 years old, the kil­led per­son was 17 years young. The inju­red ones are in medi­cal tre­at­ment in Trom­sø.

The polar bear was shot.

Fur­ther details are not yet known.

Beau­tiful, but also dan­ge­rous: polar bear.

Deadly polar bear attack in Tempelfjord - data-lazy-src=

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