Polar bear killed after attack on Arctic cruise ship guard

Saul Bowman
July 31, 2018

Some are saying it was a needless death of a vulnerable animal and that tourists shouldn't have been there in the first place.

A Hapag-Lloyd spokesman said the bear had been shot by the man's colleague "in an act of self-defence".

"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. He is out of danger, with no threat to life.

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

He suffered a head injury, the cruise company said.

Polar bears have been protected in Norway since 1973 and almost 1,000 were counted on Svalbard during a 2015 census. They then set up a land station and check the area again to make sure that there are no polar bears in sight.

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

No tourists had disembarked, Krause said, but four armed guards got off the vessel to inspect and secure the shore.

The condition for the injured person, who was transported back to Longyearbyen by helicopter, is reported to be stable.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said it had permission from "local authorities" to dock. Such teams are a requirement for all cruise ships that visit the area. "We are extremely sorry that this incident has happened".

"Due to the risk of meeting polar bears visitors traveling in Svalbard must always have firearms and protection devices at hand, such as a big-game rifle and ammunition for self-defense, flare gun or an emergency signal flare pen for driving off polar bears and tripwire with flares for camping", its online cruise handbook states.

The comments left beneath Hapag-Lloyd's Facebook statement are nearly entirely comprised of people expressing their outrage. It was not clear who shot the bear. Others have suggested everything from boycotts of the line to Hapag-Lloyd making significant changes to the way they do business and making significant donations to various wildlife organizations.

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