Polar bear shot dead in Iceland

File image of a polar bear Image copyright AFP
Image caption Polar bears are a rare sight in Iceland, and a danger to locals and livestock

A female polar bear has been shot dead in northern Iceland, the first such incident of its kind since 2010.

The adolescent bear came within 500 metres of an inhabited farm before it was shot by a marksman, Iceland Monitor newspaper reported, with people in farms near the north-west town of Saudarkrokur told to stay indoors while the operation to kill the animal was underway. Egill Bjarnason, who was first to spot the bear, said he was in no doubt that it need to be killed immediately, as it was close to a farm where children had been playing. It's the first polar bear to be spotted in Iceland since 2010, while another two were shot and killed in the north-west in 2008.

Polar bears are not native to Iceland, but have been known to drift across on ice from Greenland, Iceland Magazine points out. There have only been a few hundred recorded sightings of polar bears on Iceland throughout recorded history, the country's Institute of Natural History says, with older stories passing into folklore.

It is national policy to kill polar bears on sight as they are inevitably hungry after their sea voyage, and a danger to residents and livestock. Jon Gunnar Ottosson, CEO of the Institute of Natural History rejected the idea that the animal could have been drugged and shipped elsewhere, telling Morgunbladid newspaper that it's costly and complex to implement. "These are dangerous animals, not some cute teddy bear," he said.

Iceland Monitor says the animal shot in this incident will probably be stuffed and displayed in a museum.

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