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A polar bear has attacked and injured a man leading tourists off a cruise ship on an archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, Norwegian authorities say.

The condition for the injured person, who was transported back to Longyearbyen by helicopter, is reported to be stable.

According to Danielsen, it is unknown who shot and killed the polar bear or if the injured person is a part of the tourist group or the crew on the ship. As the cruise line explained via a statement on their Facebook page, "A polar bear guard - an expert employed by the cruise line - was attacked on land by a polar bear". "Customers need to start asking themselves if they feel good about a native bear being shot dead to enable their selfish intrusion into this lovely creature's home", wrote one upset poster.

Arctic tourism to the region has risen sharply in the last few years and is now in high season. Etminan said the victim did not appear to suffer life-threatening injuries.

A polar bear has been shot dead after injuring a guard working for cruise ship tourists visiting an Arctic archipelago in Norway.

Polar bear
The polar bear was shot dead after the attack prompting anger on social media

According to the cruise company, all ships travelling in the northern region are required to employ polar bear guards to protect passengers on sightseeing tours.

Moritz Krause, a spokesman for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the German operator of the cruise expedition, said Sunday by phone that "we completely regret what happened" to the bear but that the cruise ship employee had acted in self-defense. In 2015, Czech Jakub Moravec was pulled out of the tent by a polar bear, but escaped with slight damage.

"British comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted: "'Let's get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close.' Morons".

Scientists believe human activity and climate change have contributed to an increase in polar bear attacks, which are most likely to occur when the animals are very hungry. "Almost every year a polar bear is killed in Svalbard after confrontations with humans or because of safety perspective in the settlements".

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