Claims that a Co Down man was attacked by a bear while skiing in the United States were a hoax, it has emerged.
It was claimed in a story widely circulated on the internet that Niall McPolin was attacked by a bear while skiing at Lake Tahoe, between California and Nevada, with his friend Conor Crawford last week.
The story was accompanied with grizzly pictures showing two deep gashes allegedly caused by the bear when it bit Niall, from Hilltown near Rathfriland, after he unwittingly disturbed its hibernation.
According to the report the bear, which he said was over eight feet tall, had sank its teeth into Niall who was rushed to the nearby Barton Memorial Hospital where he received a total of 35 stitches.
Niall spent two days in hospital but was able to make it out in time for New Year’s Eve.
However, yesterday evening a US website said the pair have admitted that the story was made up and that Mr McPolin, a student at San Francisco State University, sustained his injuries in a fall on the piste.
According to a report by South Tahoe Now, the two were skiing from the Nevada side of Heavenly Mountain resort to the California side when McPolin fell.
Sunday Life asked the South Lake Tahoe Police Department about the incident but it said it had not received any reports of bear attacks recently.
We also contacted the Nevada Department of Wildlife which said it was unaware of any bear attacks in the Lake Tahoe area within the last week.
When this newspaper contacted Mr Crawford in order to confirm his account he was unavailable for comment.