The two boys from Bergen ran bare-legged for half an hour after abandoning their tent in the mountains near Helleland and scampering down to the E35 motorway. One of the boys was clad only in his underwear, a detail described as “unusual” by a passing deliveryman.
At 4.30am, the terrified campers called the police from a petrol station in the village to report what they had heard.
“They reported in all seriousness that they had heard a roaring bear,” police investigator Victor Jensen told news agency NTB.
“They had been woken up by five or six loud roars that they said must have been the roars of a bear, even though they had never heard a bear roar before.”
Too scared to return to their tent, the boys instead checked in to a motel in the village where they spent the remainder of the night.
With no other reported bear sightings in the area, Jensen injected a note of scepticism.
“Personally I think it might have been a lowing cow, but nothing can be ruled out,” he told broadcaster NRK.
Other experts consulted by NRK said there were no bears in the area and guessed the boys had probably been frightened by a deer, a stag, or a cow.