The group was travelling to find the perfect spot to watch the solar eclipse on 19th of March this year, when a polar bear attacked their camp during the night.
“We were sleeping in the tent, and when I woke up the polar bear was standing on top of me,” Jakub Moravec (37) told Norway’s NRK broadcaster from hospital the day after the after the attack. “It went straight to my head. Luckily my colleague shot it.”
The bear was shot but not killed by a pistol shot and later tracked down and killed by professional hunters.
A woman who was supposed to be on guard against polar bear attacks who fired the pistol shots.
“We woke to shouts of “Bear! Bear!” coming from the second tent,” Zuzanna Hakova, who was part of the group, told NRK at the time. “We had a rifle on the outside of each tent and we also had a revolver in our tent. The ones being attacked had no chance of getting their weapon, so my mother took her revolver and shot the bear three times.”
The leader of the party has now been fined 10,000 kroner ($1,200), as Svalbard’s local environmental laws stipulate that people travelling in the archipelago must have the necessary knowledge and take precautions against polar bear attacks to protect both people and animals.
“They had not put in place the necessary safeguards. There was only one tripwire that was set too high and the bear went under it. Nor did they have a polar bear watch at the time,” said assistant Governor Jens Olav Sæter to local newspaper Svalbardposten.
It is the first time anyone has been fined for a polar bear attack in Norway.
“As far as I know, the law has not been employed before,” Sæter told NRK.
Sæter said that the deaths of many polar bears killed in self-defence could be avoided if proper safety measures were put in place.
“It’s been a particularly difficult but significant case to decide. It is important not only for the man, but for many people who travel on Svalbard,” he told Svalbardposten