Polar Bear Who Killed Teen Deserved to Be Shot

polar bearA polar bear attacked five people in Norway Friday, killing a 17-year-old boy and sending four others to the hospital with serious injuries. The tourists, mainly 16- to 23-year-old students, were part of the British Schools Exploring Society visiting the remote arctic Svalbard archipelago and the Von Postbreen glacier, which is about halfway between Norway's mainland and the North pole. The victim was British, and the injured men were the trip leaders.

Experts are saying that dwindling ice is forcing the polar bears to come farther inland to look for food. They think the bear attacked because it was either hungry, provoked, or threatened. We've all seen those sad images on TV of polar bears floating on square-inch ice cubes as their habitat is destroyed by global warming, so maybe the beautiful creatures are sick of it and have decided to exact revenge. Except in this case, the joke's on the polar bear: It was killed.


A group member shot the bear.

Reports say the polar bear had crossed a trip wire and got into the camp ground, attacking the students and leaders while they were in their tents. The scene sounds terrifying -- one group leader fended off death by punching the bear in the nose. There aren't any roads in the remote area, so a helicopter was called in using a satellite phone.

This summer there was a bear attack in Yellowstone, but thankfully the grizzly was spared after having killed a 57-year-old man. In this case, though, the polar bear wasn't as lucky: It was killed for following his instincts. While it is devastating, I can't say I wouldn't have pulled the trigger myself had I been a member of that group, watching my friends be torn to bloody shreds.

Polar bears are common in that area, and the mayor had issued warnings about how dangerous the bears are and how they're getting closer and closer to towns. Still, attacks are extremely rare: In the "polar bear capital of the world," Churchill, Manitoba, only two people have been killed since 1717.

The four injured trip leaders are recovering in the hospital today and the other group members are, not surprisingly, still in shock. It's a tragedy all around -- two precious lives were lost.

What do you think?

Photo via longhorndave/Flickr

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