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Lucky escape for Swedes after 'dead' bear attacks

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Lucky escape for Swedes after 'dead' bear attacks
It is legal to hunt bear in Sweden between August and October. Photo: Per Løchen/NTB scanpix/SCANPIX
15:33 CEST+02:00
A Swedish man has spoken about his close brush with death when a bear he believed he had killed lunged up and launched a violent attack on himself and his hunting partner on the first day of Sweden's annual cull.

Roles were reversed at the start of Sweden's annual bear hunt on Friday when two Swedish hunters had to be taken to hospital after they were attacked by their own prey.

“I had had my eye on this bear for a week and a half, because it had been walking around eating oats in this area,” Per-Anders Wärme from Bollnäs in northern Sweden told regional newspaper Hela Hälsingland after the incident.

He and his friend had fired two shots at a bear just after the hunt got under way early on Friday morning. But when they walked up to the prey it turned out it was still alive.

Keen to exert his revenge, the 270-kilo beast lunged at Wärme's colleague, who fell to the ground. And as the 49-year-old tried to get hold of his rifle and rescue the other man the bear came towards him instead.

“I had my fist in the jaws of the bear before I managed to get the barrel in place to pull the trigger,” he said after his injured left hand was stitched up by doctors at a clinic in Bollnäs.

The other man, who has not been named, suffered severe but non-life threatening bite wounds on his thigh and groin and was taken to hospital in Gävle to undergo surgery.

“I am aware of the risks and how bears act. I feel stable now and will continue the hunt tormorrow,” Wärme told Hela Hälsingland.

VIDEO: Swedish man's roar sees off charging bear

Under Swedish law it is legal to hunt the animals between August and October and in recent years this has been actively encouraged to help control growing numbers of the creatures.

Hundreds of brown bears are shot in Sweden every autumn as part of the cull, which this year will see 226 animals killed in seven counties across northern parts of Sweden.

But the practice was met with criticism when the Swedish Species Information Centre announced earlier this year that the brown bear is once again at risk of becoming extinct, after previously dropping off the centre's annual 'red' watchlist.

The centre has reclassified the brown bear as an endangered species, citing hunting as the primary cause of the declining population.  

Bear attacks on humans are relatively rare in Sweden, compared to the US, where on average two people a year die as a result of an encounter with a bear. By contrast, there have only been two fatalities caused by bear attacks over the last century in Sweden. 

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