Polar bear killed after attacking man on island off northern Norway

"The man was attacked by a polar bear and injured on his head", Hapag Lloyd Cruises, who operates the ship, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The polar bear was shot dead by another employee as it attacked their colleague.

The polar bear was shot dead by another employee, the cruise company said. "There are polar bears out there". The other guards shot the bear after trying unsuccessfully to evict the animal, the company said.

Arctic tourism, now in high season, has been on the rise in recent years.

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

In what is being called "an act of self-defense" by Hapag-Lloyd cruise line, the bear was shot by a guard specifically hired to protect their guests and crew during risky encounters.

"He was flown out, was responsive, and is now undergoing medical treatment", Etminan said to The Associated Press.

A polar bear was killed after attacking a polar bear guard who was leading tourists off a cruise ship on the Svalbard archipelago archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole on Saturday.

The man was a crew member onboard MS Bremen operated by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

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.

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. "Landings are possible only in a few places".

English comedian, actor, writer and producer Ricky Gervais is among the hundreds of people that have taken to social media attacking the company for being "callous" and condemning tourism to highly sensitive wildlife areas.

The area is a wilderness of glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic Circle and is home to around 3,000 polar bears.

  • Joey Payne