Polar bear shot and killed after attacking cruise ship guard

Polar bear shot and killed after attacking cruise ship guard

Polar bear shot and killed after attacking cruise ship guard

Moritz Krause, a spokesman for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the German operator of the cruise expedition, said Sunday by phone that "we completely regret what happened" to the bear but that the cruise ship employee had acted in self-defense.

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

According to Hapag Lloyd Cruises, all of its cruise ships traveling in the region are obliged to have polar bear guards aboard.

The injured man was flown to the town of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen island.

The long-running cruise company said they had travelled to the destination for many years and were "very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife".

There are 18 cruise ships set to dock this week in Longyearbyen, Svalbard's largest settlement.

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

It is known for its reindeer, glaciers and remote terrain, as well as polar bears. If the opportunity presents itself, polar bears will also consume carcasses, such as those of dead whales. "As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately".

Another posted: "So - at a time when polar bears are hungry, when there is no sea ice, you put yourself in the middle of its dinner plate and are surprised by its reaction and shoot the bear?"

On Twitter, there's been outrage over human intrusion of the polar bear's natural habitat.

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

Given that the current "population status" of polar bears is listed as "vulnerable" due to their decreasing number, it is perhaps not surprising that the company has come under intense fire for how the incident played out.

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