Polar Bear Kills Teenage Boy in the Arctic


Photo: flickrfavorites via Flickr/CC BY

Reports are coming in that a tragic attack has occurred on an Arctic expedition in Svalbard, Norway: A British teenager taking part on the trek was attacked and killed by a polar bear -- four others were wounded, and the bear was shot dead. The BBC has the details:

A polar bear has mauled a 17-year-old British boy to death in the Arctic and injured four other UK tourists.

Horatio Chapple, from Wiltshire, was with 12 others on a British Schools Exploring Society trip near a glacier on the Norwegian island of Svalbard.

The four who were hurt - two severely - included two leaders of the trip. They have been flown to Tromsoe in Norway where their condition is stable.

There's some question as to the safety of such expeditions in general. The New York Times' Andy Revkin tweeted that "Svalbard bears [are] famously deadly. No place for this kind of trek.

But the BBC's Matt Walker also notes in its analysis of the news that such an attack may have ramifications beyond vacation-planning: "Polar bears are, along with the grizzly bears of Kodiak Island, Alaska, the largest living predators on land. They are also considered to be one of the few wild species that will actively hunt humans.

However, the chance to do so occurs rarely, due to the extreme isolation of their Arctic habitat ... As climate change reduces ice cover, there are concerns that more polar bears will become displaced and will move further inland to seek food, bringing them into contact with more people."

Not that we needed another reason to pick up our efforts in addressing climate change, but there you go.

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