Polar bear shot after attacking cruise ship guard

Polar bear attacks cruise ship employee on Arctic island

Polar bear killed after attacking man on island off northern Norway

The attack occurred on the northernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, which is between mainland Norway and the North Pole. On Saturday morning, however, the injured guard did not see the polar bear, he said.

He had been assigned to protect tourists arriving Svalbard's northernmost island from the MS Bremen, operated by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. As the cruise line explained via a statement on their Facebook page, "A polar bear guard - an expert employed by the cruise line - was attacked on land by a polar bear".

The worker, a designated polar bear guard, suffered a head injury as he led tourists off the ship and was unresponsive when he was airlifted for medical treatment, Sky News reported.

Meanwhile fellow Twitter user Gareth Stringer commented: "Polar bear shot for being a Polar Bear".

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In recent years, the area has become a popular destination for arctic tourism, especially during the summer months.

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

"He was flown out, was responsive, and is now undergoing medical treatment", Etminan said, adding that the victim was not in a life-threatening condition.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said all ships in the area are required to employ guards to protect passengers from polar bears on tours.

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"Polar bears are only observed from aboard ships, from a safe distance", the company says.

The statement explains that in preparing to take a group of visitors ashore in Spitzbergen - a Norwegian archipelago - an advance group of polar guards are sent ashore without passengers. "When there's only 25,000 polar bears left on the planet, every one matters".

Svalbard is a remote, ice-covered wilderness which lies between Norway and the North Pole, where its 3,000 polar bears are thought to outnumber the human population.

Critics online, including British comedian Ricky Gervais, blamed the attack on human intrusion into polar bear territories.

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