Polar bear shot dead in ‘self-defence’

Polar bear attacks cruise ship employee on Arctic island

Another crew member from the MS Bremen, acting as a polar bear guard, is believed to have shot the bear after a group of tourists went ashore from the ship.

Animal rights activists are furious, after a German cruise ship employee shot and killed a polar bear in an island on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard on Saturday.

The German cruise company said a second guard shot the bear "in self-defence".

It said the man was taken by helicopter to the town of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen island and that he was in a stable condition. He was flown out to Longyearbyen and is undergoing medical treatment.

Tourism in the area has increased in recent years and is at its highest in the summer months.

"'Let's get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close, ' Morons", actor-comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted.

"He was attacked by a bear and bitten in the head", Ole Jakob Malmo, chief superintendent of Svalbard police, said.

An unidentified man was attacked and hurt by a polar bear on Norway's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, newspaper Aftenposten reported Saturday.

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"He was flown out, was responsive, and is now undergoing medical treatment", said Negar Etminan, a spokeswoman for Hapag-Lloyd.

A cruise line is experiencing intense scrutiny and backlash after their visit to the Arctic Circle resulted in the tragic death of a polar bear.

No further information about the attack was given, but a photograph showed the polar bear's body after it was killed by the other guard.

Usually "as soon as an animal approaches, the landing stops immediately", Krause added.

"Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is very aware of its responsibility when traveling in environmentally sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife", the company statement said.

But critics online say the bear was only acting like a bear, and didn't deserve to die. In Arctic regions, their numbers have declined - a development linked to the loss of sea ice.

One user suggested: "If you need a 4-person polar bear guard team perhaps you should not be visiting here".

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