A cruise guard has shot dead a polar bear after it attacked another guard in a remote region between Norway and the North Pole.
The incident has caused widespread criticism for the cruise company involved, German Hapag Lloyd Cruises, with hundreds taking to social media to speak out against tourism in sensitive wildlife areas.
Who really attacked who. The polar bear was in its natural habitat. The tourists were tourists… and got the bear killed.
— Antonio Batiste (@batiste23703) July 28, 2018
— Sally Snow (@sallyjsnow) July 29, 2018
If the MS Bremen cruise ship HADN'T taken tourists onto the archipelago NO ONE would have been hurt especially now a dead polar bear. It seems the German Hapag Lloyd Cruises are more interested in greed than safety of polar bears. https://t.co/RRnx7y6cNU
— June DeLong (@bellagirl8114) July 29, 2018
The attack occurred when tourists from the ship, MS Bremen, landed on the northernmost point of Svalbard.
According to the BBC, the guard who was attacked suffered from non-life-threatening injuries and is in a stable condition after being airlifted to hospital in Longyearbyen.
The cruise company said the second guard shot the bear in self-defence.
The BBC also reported that shrinking sea ice caused by warming Arctic waters has forced the bears to change their behaviour and spend more time on land to hunt for food over greater distances.
"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
Cruise ships sailing in the region are required to have polar bear guards on board to protect tourists.
With arctic tourism more popular than ever, the Guardian reports a further 18 cruise ships would be docking in Longyearbyen in the next week.