Polar bear attacks cruise ship employee on Arctic island

The polar bear was shot dead 'in an act of self-defense' by a second guard

Polar bear attacks cruise ship employee on Arctic island

A polar bear was killed after it attacked a bear guard leading tourists off a German cruise ship near the North Pole, officials said.

The animal was killed after attacking a cruise ship guard on Norway's Svalbard archipelago, which lies within the Artic Circle, according to the Joint Rescue Coordination for Northern Norway.

The injured guard, who was not identified, was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital, according to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

"Maybe cruise sightseeing tours shouldn't take place then polar bear guards wouldn't be needed to protect gawking tourists & polar bears would be left in peace & not shot dead merely to satisfy a photo op?"

The polar bear was shot dead by another employee, the cruise company said on Saturday.

On Saturday, the MS Bremen cruise ship landed on the island and polar bear guards went ashore to survey the land.

In what is being called "an act of self-defense" by Hapag-Lloyd cruise line, the bear was shot by a guard specifically hired to protect their guests and crew during unsafe encounters.

All cruise ships sailing in the region were obliged to have polar bear guards aboard, Etminan said.

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He suffered a head injury, the cruise company said.

"He was flown out, was responsive, and is now undergoing medical treatment", spokeswoman Negar Etminan said of their employee, adding that the victim was not in a life-threatening condition.

An estimated 60% of it is covered with ice, and its 3,000 polar bears are said to outnumber the human population.

Reaction to the death of this polar bear has been swift.

"'Let's get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets to close. Landings are possible only in a few places".

"They had no right to get themselves into a situation where they needed to defend themselves", said one Twitter user.

Five fatal polar bear attacks have been recorded on Svalbard in the last 40 years. The Svalbard archipelago is a known habitat of polar bears.

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