Outrage after cruise guard shoots polar bear

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A polar bear who attacked and injured a guard leading tourists off a cruise ship on an Arctic archipelago has been shot dead, according to Norwegian authorities and the cruise company.

That's what makes the shooting and killing of a polar bear in Norway's Svalbard archipelago, within the Arctic Circle, all the more infuriating.

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

Tourist expeditions are required to employ bear guards for the safety of the passengers.

Four years earlier, 17-year-old Horatio Chapple from Britain was killed and four others injured when a polar bear attacked them at Von Postbreen, about 40 kilometers from Longyearbyen.

The guard who was attacked, he said, had suffered head injuries but was now responsive and in "stable condition".

The polar bear was then shot dead "in an act of self-defence" by the second guard, spokeswoman Negar Etminan said.

Animal activists are heavily criticising a German cruise line after an employee shot and killed a polar bear that attacked a colleague. The probe will include an examination of the polar bear. "As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately". That worker was also a bear guard.

"There had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person", the statement added.

The company issued a statement apologizing for the incident and saying " Hapag-Lloyd Cruises very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife". "We are extremely sorry that this incident has happened". "When there's only 25,000 polar bears left on the planet, every one matters".

The polar bear population is being hit hard by the effects of global warming.

But critics online say the bear was only acting like a bear, and didn't deserve to die.

"They had no right to get themselves into a situation where they needed to defend themselves", said one Twitter user.