It’s the worst nightmare for any camper in bear country. A Czech tourist sleeping in a tent on a remote arctic island in Norway wakes up in the night as a polar bear rips through the canvas.
Fortunately, the man survived the brief mauling. Jakub Moravec , who was on a combined snowshoeing and snow machining trip with five others, told the Associated Press the bear clawed him in the back before getting driven away by gunshots.
Thousands of tourists were descending on the remote area, some 800 miles north of the Norwegian mainland, ahead of a solar eclipse on Friday.
“It was going for my head,” Moravec told the AP. “I used my hands to protect my head.”
The incident serves as a reminder of the very real risks of camping and hiking in polar bear country. Outdoorsmen headed to areas of North America where these arctic giants roam would do well to learn the risks beforehand. In the wild, a polar bear may attack for any number of reasons, such as territorial instincts or to protect cubs.
While they do pop up in the news, fatal bear attacks in North America are actually quite rare and polar bear attacks even rarer with just three each in the 1970s and 80s, two recorded in the 1990s and none since.
Those interested in viewing polar bears and learning more about their habits in the wild can contact any number of guides and tours. The Tundra Buggy Adventure Company out of Churchill, Manitoba, offers buggy tours of the Churchill Wildlife Management Area.
You can also check out Natural Habitat Adventures, a site that offers a directory of wildlife guides and tours throughout the world.
Photo credit: Polar Bear, Hudson Bay, Canada Polar Bear, Hudson Bay, Canada, Getty Images