Norwegian authorities on Monday defended the actions of guards from a German cruise ship that killed a polar bear that had attacked and injured a crew member, saying they at first tried to scare it away. Police spokesman Ole Jakob Malmo said two members of the 12-man crew that set foot on the most northern island of the Svalbard archipelago ahead of tourists on Saturday first tried to ward off the bear “by shouting and making loud noises as well as firing a signal pistol, but to no effect.”
A 42-year-old German man who was not identified sustained minor head injuries from the attack, Malmo said.
The incident sparked international outrage, with animal rights activists saying that it was wrong to begin with to let tourists from the MS Bremen cruise ship encroach upon territory known as a habitat for the vulnerable species.
The German cruise ship operator Hapag Lloyd Cruises said on its Facebook page that the purpose of the landing on Svalbard was not “to serve the purpose of polar bear observation, on the contrary: polar bears are only observed from aboard ships, from a safe distance.”