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Researcher mauled by 'sleeping' bear

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Researcher mauled by 'sleeping' bear
15:01 CEST+02:00
Peter Segerström, a Swedish predator researcher, was attacked on Monday by a bear who had been put to sleep to be tagged.

"It bit pretty hard," Segerström said to the local Norrländska Socialdemokraterna daily.

After the attack Segerström was taken to Gällivare hospital for treatment for arm injuries as the bear had managed to register some fairly deep cuts in both arms with its jaws.

The harrowing attack occurred near Nausta outside of Jokkmokk in the far north of Sweden after Segerström had shot a sedation dart into a female bear with the intention of tagging the animal.

As it was a warm day the researcher had dragged the sedated bear to a water-hole to cool her off and prevent any adverse health effects. It was then that the bear awoke with a start and went on the attack.

Segerström battled the enraged animal for around 30 seconds as he was being bitten on the arms which he had raised to protect his head and throat.

"It got a little chaotic. The bear had a strong jaw and sure I rolled my eyes when the bites were at their worst," he said.

Luckily for the intrepid researcher there were two other people present, his son Einar, and a reindeer herder going by the name of Rune Stokke.

Einar Segerström proceeded to wave a dry pine branch in order to distract the angry bear, while a second dart was administered to bring the unsavoury drama to a relatively satisfactory close.

A popular nursery rhyme among Swedish children entitled Björnen sover (The bear is sleeping) is often played out with one child as the sleeping bear while the others dance around. At the end of the song the bear wakes up and chases the others, with the first one captured taking the turn of the bear.

The rhyme succinctly captures the assembled popular wisdom in regard to the brown bear and its status in the Swedish flora and fauna - not dangerous, if you take care.

Statistics compiled by the Big 5 Predator Centre in Järvsö in central Sweden back up this old adage. The statistics, covering the period 1995-2007, show that only two people have been killed at the hands of the brown bear, with a total of 18 people attacked. Prior to the attacks (in 2004 and 2007), there had been no registered deaths since 1902.

The bear was a protected species in Sweden 1913-1942. Since 1981 the hunting of bears is regulated by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) which allowed the culling of 243 animals in 2009, of a population estimated to be between 2,300 and 2,800.

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