Polar bear shot dead on Svalbard

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A Polar bear attacked a German man Saturday while he was leading a group of tourists on an Arctic island between Norway and the North Pole.

The incident took place on Saturday in Svalbard, located between Norway and the North Pole above the Arctic Circle, after the MS Bremen docked at the remote port.

The injured employee was flown by helicopter to the local capital Longyearbyen and then on to Tromso on the mainland in the evening, Malmo said.

If the guards had been successful in securing the land and there were no polar bears surrounding the site, tourists would have been permitted to disembark the ship to explore the land. The area is known for its polar bears, sea lions and stark landscapes.

He suffered non-life-threatening head injuries and is said to be in a stable condition.

However, animal lovers including comedian Ricky Gervais have reacted furiously on social media after the German cruise company which organised the trip justified the decision to shoot the bear dead by describing it as "an act of self-defence".

The polar bear was then shot dead "in an act of self-defense" by the second guard, spokeswoman Negar Etminan told the AP. "As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately".

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In this case, one of the guards was attacked unexpectedly by a polar bear that had not been spotted. "We are extremely sorry that this incident has happened". A promotional film (see above) highlights wildlife, including polar bears.

Officials in Svalbard frequently issue warnings about the dangers posed by polar bears.

The cruise liner operating "MS Bremen" is Hapag Lloyd Cruises.

Polar bears have become poster animals for climate change, with scientists identifying human-driven global warming as the biggest threat to the bears' continued existence.

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

One user suggested: "If you need a 4-person polar bear guard team perhaps you should not be visiting here".