Environmentalists are outraged after a guard hired by a German cruise line shot and killed a polar bear that was attacking another guard Saturday.
The M.S. Bremen cruise ship, operated by the Hapag Lloyd Cruises company, had anchored at the largest and northernmost island of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, CNN reported. An advance team of four guards hired to protect tourists from polar bears landed on the island to see if the area was safe, according to a company Facebook post after the incident.
As the guards were preparing to leave, “one of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted,” the post said. “Attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful.”
“There had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person,” the post continued.
The cruise line does not let tourists go ashore in areas where polar bears are present. The advance team of guards is responsible for surveying the area to limit the interaction of polar bears with cruise tourists, according to the company’s post.
That policy did not curb any criticism from conservationists and celebrities who slammed the cruise company for bringing tourists to an environment populated by polar bears, a species in danger of extinction, the World Wildlife Fund says. (RELATED: Report: Polar Bears Are Thriving Despite Global Warming)
“It’s incredibly tragic,” wildlife conservationist Jeff Corwin said during an appearance on CNN Sunday. “When there’s only 25,000 polar bears left on the planet, every one matters.”
“When you are in this ecosystem as a tourist, as an explorer or as a scientist, you have the responsibility to follow the protocols to ensure that you stay safe and that you don’t interfere with the wild behavior of polar bears.”
“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
Maybe cruise sightseeing tours shouldn’t take place then polar bear guards wouldn’t be needed to protect gawking tourists & polar bears would be left in peace & not shot dead merely to satisfy a photo op? https://t.co/OqOlAiYynN
— Jane Roberts (@JaneElRoberts) July 29, 2018
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