A guard was leading a group of tourists off a cruise on an Arctic archipelago when a polar bear attacked.
The German Hapag Lloyd Cruises company said two polar bear guards went onto the island ahead of the group to check if the area was safe.
One of the men was attacked by a polar bear and injured on his head. As an act of self-defense, the other polar bear guard fatally shot the animal.
In a statement made by Hapag Lloyd Cruises, the polar bear guard suffered non-life threatening injuries. He was airlifted out of the area after the incident.
Information about the current incident in Spitzbergen – MS BREMENThis Saturday on a trip ashore in Spitsbergen during…
The guard’s condition is stable and he remains responsive. But, the death of the bear has drawn backlash and condemnation from social media.
Twitter users posted that the bear was only acting out because people were in his territory:
Just read a story about a polar bear shot by a guard of a cruise ship leading tourist sightseeing. My question. WHY take tourists 2 go see polar bears in THEIR environment and then shot it when the humans get too close. A wasted life of a threatened animal due to human stupidity
— Dan Londe (@dan_londe) July 29, 2018
"Let's get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close". Morons. https://t.co/FEPt0sYOtF
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) July 29, 2018
He could have 'defended himself' by not being in the polar bear's habitat.
— ☭ is love (@ErichSBloodaxe) July 29, 2018
One of many reasons I don't support the cruise ship industry. Why can't people just be happy seeing animals from a safe distance or watching Planet Earth 🤷 A**holes!
— Abbey Scott △̶ (@AbbeyScott16) July 29, 2018
A spokesman has said that they completely regret what happened but the cruise ship employee had acted in self-defense.
In the last few years, Arctic tourism has risen to popularity with more tourists booking Arctic cruises. Eighteen cruise ships will be docking at Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s largest settlement in the next week.
The Norwegian Polar Institute has issued out a lot of warnings about polar bears in the area. They’ve urged visitors to arm themselves.
There are only 3,000 polar bears living on the main island of Svalbard. With the increase of visitors, there’s no knowing if these numbers will fall. The recent incident has sparked the question on conservation and how the Norwegian government plans to act to protect the polar bears.