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Armed for first day of school

Hundreds of thousands of students had their first day of school on Monday. Some of them had to learn to carry guns and be prepared to shoot -- polar bears.

Reindeer can also be encountered on Svalbard, like here at the Norwegian Polar Institute's research station in Ny-Ã…lesund, which got a dusting of new snow over the weekend.

Students on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard aren't allowed to leave their village without a shotgun and ammunition. That's because hungry polar bears can be behind every swing on the island.

Although no one wants to shoot a polar bear, and they're indeed protected by national law, the huge white animals can quickly outrun a human. And humans don't have a chance if confronted by an aggressive bear.

So everyone on Svalbard needs to be able defend him- or herself, and students undergo weapons training every year.

"We feel more secure and look forward to learn a lot more," said Helga Therese Tilley Tajet of Moelv. She's studying meteorology at the University of Oslo and will concentrate on the Arctic marine climate for the next six months at the university on Svalbard, UNIS.

The students are also trained in Arctic survival techniques in addition to how to use a weapon. "It's absolutely necessary," said UNIS director Gunnar Sand. Much of the course work involved is carried out in the field, and the students also go trekking in their free time.

The school lends out weapons, ammunition, tents, sleeping bags, survival suits, snow scooters and other equipment that's essential in the Arctic landscape.

"Polar bears are one thing," Sand noted. "Even more dangerous is the extreme cold, and the winds. There also are dangerous glaciers, steep cliffs, and it's a long way between settlements."
 

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There are only two animals that are known to activly, intentionally, hunt humans. Polar Bears and Tigers. You can bet that I wouldn't be caught dead in Polar Bear country without a boomstick!
 

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USMC - Retired said:
There are only two animals that are known to activly, intentionally, hunt humans. Polar Bears and Tigers. You can bet that I wouldn't be caught dead in Polar Bear country without a boomstick!
Really?
Ya learn something new everyday.
 

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Rammstein said:
Only the "victim" was a polar bear........and he tasted great. :D
Brings to mind the line from the 2nd(?) Star Wars movie when Luke was pulled out of a dead beast by Han Solo, "And I thought they smelled bad on the outside!"

People looked at a buddy of mine and me funny 'cause we were rolling on the floor laughing. Guess they'd never field dressed anything.
 
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