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The recent spree-killing in Norway taught us—again, still—that bad things happen to defenseless people. Here’s another reminder [via]. “The four British campers who were attacked by the bear in Svalbard are recovering after surgery in Tromso according to doctors at The University Hospital of Northern Norway.  The four persons, they have moderate injuries . . .

Two of them have severe injuries. They have been receiving treatment last afternoon and this night and they are being treated now in Tromso,” said hospital press officer Marit Einejord. 17 year old Horatio Chapple was killed in the attack which occurred when a polar bear entered a tent camp of the British Schools Exploring Society, a youth development charity, some 25 miles (40 km) east of the town of Longyearbyen . . .

Oedegaard said campers normally lay a tripwire around tents before they go to sleep. An emergency flare is triggered if an animal crosses the wire. It was unclear whether the British campers’ wire had worked properly, she said.

“It is not unusual to camp here, but it is necessary to carry weapons,” she said.

According to, the British campers’ did not carry a weapon, nor had a firearm in their tent at the time of the attack. Their electronic trip wire alert system failed. After the bear attacked, a group member in another tent retrieved a shotgun and fired, ending the assault.

The father of Mr Reid spoke of his pride at his son’s bravery. Despite managing to kill the bear, the 29-year-old was left with serious injuries to his head and neck and is still in hospital.

In an email sent from his bed at the University Hospital in Tromso, where the survivors were taken, he told his family how he fired at the bear.

His father, Peter Reid, 65, from Plymouth, said: ‘He told us the bear attacked the tent with three people in it, and he and another leader went to help and were viciously attacked by the bear.

‘He managed to get away, ran to get a gun and shot the bear.’

The Telegraph reports that two Britons suffered the same fate—a failed tripwire and mauling–on the same island one year ago. Lessons learned: check your tripwire (alarm system). And keep your friends close, your shotgun closer.

[NOTE: The original version of this post disparaged the victims of this attack. I apologize for this mis-characterization and pledge to be more careful in the future.]

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  1. These people don’t want to protect themselves, so let them be good lil sheep and get eaten by a bear. Those poor bears need to eat, so if you go into bear country unprotected your screwed. Same goes for self defense against criminals, they think the cops will save their sorry asses but in the real world they will end up dead.

    • “These people don’t want to protect themselves, so let them be good lil sheep.”

      Sheep are incapable of defending themselves. That’s why there are shepherds and sheepdogs. As you correctly pointed out, some people don’t want to defend themselves. They want mommy and daddy to keep them all safe and cozy. They’re not sheep, they’re pre-adolescents.

    • I’m not even sure how to respond to such an assinine comment. They were protected, they had a gun and sounds like they took the necessary precautions for the area they were in – bad stuff happens regardless of your best preparations. A kid was killed but let’s not pass up a chance to call them names anyway.

      “…you go into bear country unprotected, your (sic) screwed.” Talk about “wussification.”

  2. I wonder if bear spray is even legal there? Honestly that stuff is going to be more effective than a firearm for most people (read: not your typical firearms owners) who find themselves in bear country. That being said, if there are bears around you better believe that at the very least I’ll have a .357 on my hip next to the spray.

  3. One article I read said that the bear was killed by an armed member of the party. No idea if that’s true. What was probably just as crazy/stupid was the NOLS group in Alaska. They were unarmed except for bear spray and apparently the bear spray was not readily accessible.

  4. There are bears and then there are BEARS. Your basic Blue Ridge black bear can be handled with a 357 or 45. The only handgun that will be effective against a grizzly, kodiak or polar bear is a 44 mag. You need a high velocity round to take those puppies down.

    My son plans to drive up to the Yukon next summer for his pre-grad school adventure. I told him you take Remington and load it with five rounds. If you encounter a big guy up there you empty the magazine into him and when you are empty the bear is either dead or you are dinner. I wish the Canucks would allow semi-auto rifles because I would prefer to send him off with an M-1A. It would give me an excuse to buy one.

    • Is he planning to drive into Canada with that weapon? As far as I know it is almost impossible to get a permit to take a handgun into Canada for any reason

      • John:

        Maybe I wasn’t clear. He will be taking my Remington 700/308. Canada lets you bring in a bolt action rifle for hunting purposes. There is a lot of paperwork but it is possible.

  5. For bears of the north, I’d want a rifle nearby, at least 30-06. Or a 30 cal magnum.
    For the tourist, spray is probably a much better tool than any of the (powerful) handguns necessary for the job.

    A Canadian pal said that today’s sprays are excellent. But I don’t know if his opinion is partly a function of the difficulty in getting an effective firearm in Canada. Any stats on how effective today’s bear sprays are?

    • PETA won’t allow actual animal testing. So you pays for your bear spray and you takes your chances.

      • It depends on which branch of PETA you belong to Ralph, I joined the ‘People Eating Tasty Animals’ division and they let anything go. I love 44’s and they will stop any bear, but the S&W 500 packs a much bigger punch.

        • +1 as usual for your comments. I encountered some of their ‘Animal Rights’ idiocy in law school. One of them threw a hissy when somebody said “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” and they can FOAD for all I care.

          BTW, I’ll be hiking in Glacier National Park this summer with a Ruger Blackhawk and 6 rounds of +P .45 Colt. The National Park Service advises that guns are allowed in National Parks now as long as you obey state law, and Montana has very tolerant gun laws.

          The Park Service also quotes some statistics claiming to show that hikers who use pepper spray are less likely to be injured than those who use guns. I’m inclined to believe this, since pepper spray usually causes bears (and everything else) to scream like a baby and run off like a gutshot cat. Only the most badass guns can stop a brown bear charge that quickly, and almost none of them are handguns.

          Yes, Joe, your .500 is one of them.

        • First off, Ms. Rebecca +10, I’ve enjoyed the hell outta your well crafted comments for several months now. Also I never can find fault or disagree with your comments unlike some assclowns (whom I’ll leave unmentioned) around here occasionally do.
          As for PETA, they can go to hell, go to hell and die! You also have to check out Penn & Teller. Hilarious!
          As for the Brits, I’ll say it. While I am very sorry for a life lost so young, You go someplace where you are outnumbered by hungry polar bears and your plan is trip flares? To me that is sheer stupidity! When I camped in my youth all over NY the worst we had to contend with was, a one in a million cougar and black bears but we always had a mini-14 that was always with in arms reach of one of us. Again I’m sorry for the lost life and hopefully someone will have learned something and maybe make it a law that if you go someplace like that that more than one person is armed.
          That’s just my two cents but what the hell do I know. I’m just a guy that’s served twenty years all around the world and might have picked up a thing or two.

  6. Svalbard already has a gun law in place. It says that if you leave the settlement you must carry a gun in case of a bear attack. Svalbard has about 2000 people and about 3000 polar bears. Hunting them is illegal, but self defense is not just a good idea, it is the law.

  7. I don’t know about a pistol in a Pelican case as a survival kit, at least for bears. If I have time to open it and load it, I probably have time to get away. It belongs in a holster on the hip.

    Bears have bigger muscles, bigger teeth and bigger claws. However, I have the bigger brain. The bigger brain wins. But only if I use it.

  8. What is all this garbage trashing the victims of this? Bullshit like “woosification” and “sheep” and “pre-adolescents”? Fuck you. They didn’t do anything wrong, they weren’t being stupid or taunting the bear or something. They weren’t even remotely unprepared. They had a tripwire system, and apparently it malfunctioned or some misfortune like that, and there was a tragic accident. There’s danger in everything, whether its camping near bears or driving down the road. But what kind of jackass would see something about a horrible car accident and say “those morons, what childlike idiots, they didn’t have their cars armored”. And car accidents are among the most dangerous things around, at least aside from long time health risks.

    The worst thing is though, that you are entirely off base. They had a goddam gun. And they killed the bear with it. They fought back pretty damn hard in general. They didn’t “need the right” to arm themselves. They had it, they used it, it didn’t save everyone. According to the link article they were required to have a “high powered rifle”.

    Also, how in hell is an article that specifically says they were required to and did have, and did use, a rifle studiously avoiding mentioning firearms?

    But really, that’s entirely beside the point. People are not weaklings or cowards or “sheep”/”pre-adolescents”/”woosified” because they don’t always keep a humongous firearm strapped to them at all times. That just isn’t normal, for a thousand reasons, not even remotely so even for gun owners. Guess what, many incidents, of any nature, you just can’t do enough to stop it. There’s things you can do to try, and in a slim section of incidents a gun might be able to help (and obviously since the place they were camping requires guns those chances are way higher in Svalbard). In many more cases its good to have a first aid kit. But you don’t shit on someone for not having one when they are out jogging in the park. I know all you guys take not only an armory with you everywhere, but also an AED, a satellite phone, and you always have a medivac ready and waiting. Aside from the pre-adolescent sheep, of course.

    I mean, I found this site looking at a review of a gun, and even though I don’t agree entirely with all the politics that are mainstream here I can understand the point of view. But anyone who thinks this incident is a result of gun control or “woosification” is just dead wrong and has no grasp of the facts, considering they were armed and demonstrated only bravery in resisting the bear, and anyone who wants to shit on the victims here should go to hell.

    This is horrible thing, and maybe there is something to learn or just to reflect and appreciate the good and worthwhile things these people were doing, and to a large degree it kind of just fits well with the sensational stuff that the media likes to report excessively. But I honestly could never have predicted this response, and that’s why I wasted all this time writing a huge screed no one will read or care about.

  9. 12-gauge shotgun with rifled slugs or buckshot. Or alternating. From what I’ve read that’s the preferred weapon for game rangers up north who have to go into brush after a bear that’s developed bad table manners.

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