A polar bear that attacked a cruise ship employee has been shot dead in the Arctic circle at the top of Norway.
The worker who was attacked by the bear - a specific polar bear guard - suffered head injuries in the attack, reports Sky News. He was flown to a hospital on Norway's Spitsbergen Island, but is not thought to have life-threatening injuries.
A spokesperson for the cruise ship company said that whilst it is not known who exactly shot the polar bear, it was killed 'in an act of self defence'. The cruise ship operator, Hapag Lloyd Cruises, is required to have a polar bear guard on every single one of the ships that travel to this area.
The MS Bremen was landed at the northernmost part of Norway, between the island of Svalbard and the North Pole when the attack occurred.
This area has seen a large increase in tourism thanks to the popularity of cruise tours. The port schedule at Longyearbyen, Svalbard, says that 18 cruise ships will enter the port to dock within the next week.
There have been numerous polar bear attacks in Norway in recent times. A few years ago in 2011 a British student named Horatio Chapple was killed when a polar bear dragged him away.
Chapple was on a tour of the area organised by the British School's Exploring Society. He was a pupil of Eton College and was amongst 12 people in his party. During the attack, the polar bear injured another four people, hurting two of them seriously.
In this incident, like the recent one, the polar bear was shot dead.
Polar bears are being forced to travel increasingly more towards human habitats in recent times. This is thought to be because they must search wider areas to find food.
Polar bears tend to become aggressive and more likely to attack when they are hungry. As the sea ice - their natural hunting ground - diminishes, they have to move closer to where humans are and may even start to see people as a viable prey.
There is also another factor to take into account, which is the increase in tourism companies offering customers the chance to get ever closer to the Arctic bears.
This could have the unwanted effect of normalising humans to the bears, which would remove their natural wariness of humans and possibly give them confidence to attack.
Luckily, on this occasion, nobody was killed.
The same can't be said for the poor polar bear.
Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: Environment, Shot, climate change, News, Norway, Animals, tourism