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Jason

Cruise line faces backlash over shooting of polar bear

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A German cruise line is facing outrage after one of its employees shot and killed a wild polar bear in Norway after the animal attacked another of its employees.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said its ship was docked at Spitsbergen, the largest island on Norway's Svalbard archipelago, on Saturday when the bear attacked a guard hired to go on shore before passengers to ensure there aren't any polar bears in the area. The guard suffered non-life-threatening head injuries and was airlifted out, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said in a statement on Facebook.

"The incident occurred when the four-person polar bear guard team, who are always on board for these expedition cruises as required by law, prepared for a shore leave," the company said. However, they failed to spot one bear, who attacked one of the guards, the cruise line said. The other guards shot the bear after trying unsuccessfully to evict the animal, the company said.

"There had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person," the company said. "We are extremely sorry that this incident has happened." The incident occurred during a 10-day cruise on the MS Bremen, a ship that holds up to 155 passengers. The World Wildlife Fund lists polar bears as a vulnerable species.

"It's incredibly tragic," said wildlife conservationist Jeff Corwin on CNN Sunday. "When there's only 25,000 polar bears left on the planet, every one matters.

"When you are in this ecosystem as a tourist, as an explorer or as a scientist, you have the responsibility to follow the protocols to ensure that you stay safe and that you don't interfere with the wild behavior of polar bears."

Online reaction to the episode has been highly critical.

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

"Tourism... again proving itself to be harmful to wildlife," tweeted biologist Adam Hart.

"Maybe cruise sightseeing tours shouldn't take place then polar bear guards wouldn't be needed to protect gawking tourists & polar bears would be left in peace & not shot dead merely to satisfy a photo op?" suggested genealogist Jane Roberts on Twitter.

In its Facebook statement, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises notes that landings on Spitsbergen are only possible in a few places and these are not done for polar bear observation. "Polar bears are only observed from aboard ships, from a safe distance," the company says.

The Norwegian Polar Institute has no shortage of warnings about polar bears and urges visitors to Svalbard -- an island cluster in the Arctic Ocean, some 1,200 miles north of continental Norway -- to arm themselves:

"Due to the risk of meeting polar bears visitors traveling in Svalbard must always have firearms and protection devices at hand, such as a big-game rifle and ammunition for self-defense, flare gun or an emergency signal flare pen for driving off polar bears and tripwire with flares for camping," its online cruise handbook states.

"Do remember that it is prohibited to follow, seek out or lure polar bears. This great predator has little respect for humans and dangerous situations can easily arise if people get too close," says the NPI, Norway's central governmental institution for scientific research in the Arctic. "Almost every year a polar bear is killed in Svalbard after confrontations with humans or because of safety perspective in the settlements."

The 3,000 or so polar bears living on the main island of the Svalbard archipelago outnumber humans, according to the Norwegian government.

By Yonette Joseph, New York Times
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
For more cruise news and articles go to https://www.cruisecrazies.com


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This is  a clear cut case of a Cruise Line wanting to make profit. You do not take tourist and place them close to Polar Bears in the wild.  They are wild animals and act when their territory is invaded. The Cruise Line cause this situation because they  wanted profit.  Polar Bears spend half their time hunting food and protecting the areas they live in. 

The cruise line created a situation by landing people on a Island area that is the habitat of Polar Bears. The bear was shot because the line does not value or respect them past the money they can make from them.  Crew members are cheap labor and easy to replace. 

I found some more information, and with these bears being a endangered animal, under the regulations in place I do not believe any ship tours that land on the Island should be allowed. If you read the highlights it is clear the rules are not followed when you land passengers. The whole reason is to enter the bears area (not allowed) and it disturbs the bears (not allowed) and places human and bears in danger (also not allowed):

It is a violation of Svalbard’s Environmental Protection Act’s general principle of protection to disturb polar bears. According to the Act “All species of flora and fauna, including their eggs, nests and lairs, are protected …” and “all access and passage in Svalbard shall take place in a way that does not harm […] or in any other way […] result in unnecessary disturbance of animals.” (Section 25 and 73 of Act of 15 June 2001 No.79 Relating to the Protection of the Environment in Svalbard).

In Section 30 of the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act it is stated that: “It is prohibited to lure, pursue or otherwise seek out polar bears in such a way as to disturb them or expose either bears or humans to danger.” (Act of 15 June 2001 No.79 Relating to the Protection of the Environment in Svalbard).

Seems clear the cruise line did not follow the regulations in place and resulted in the death of a protected animal and injury to  a member of the crew.

Edited by ExpatCruise

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Where does it say that the guides attempted to “lure, pursue or seek out” polar bears “in such a way as to disturb them?” They were simply checking the area for polar bears to access the safety for disembarking passengers. Thankfully, no guests were hurt.

This was unfortunate, but the shooter did what he thought was right to protect a colleague in danger. From what I’ve read, efforts were made to scare off the polar bear, and when that didn’t happen, there wasn’t much of a choice. 

I don’t think it’s about a money-grubbing cruise line. These are expedition cruises, and while every company wants to make a profit, the company’s mission is to provide small ship experiences to remote, off-the-beaten-path locations for the unique opportunity to explore nature and wildlife. Hapag-Lloyd cruises has been in the business of expeditions since 1891, and the Bremen - the ship in this case - since 1990. Hapag and the other tour guides who come to Svalbard are well aware of the environmental codes, and succeed in complying. Encounters will happen - like a surprise attack by an animal - which is why they have guides - and yes, they may carry guns. If I was faced with an angry, hungry polar bear, you better believe I’d want an armed guide with me, one who is prepared to shoot.

There are approximately 2,667 residents co-existing with polar bears in Svalbard, mostly without incident. Cruise and land expeditions don’t come with the intent to disturb or “lure out” polar bears or mess with the flora and fauna. They come for the opportunity to experience something they can’t get anywhere else, and hopefully are prepared enough to know the risks of exploring a place with animals in the wild. 

From what I can tell, most of these experiences go off without incident, and until Svalbard’s EPA decides to ban tourists due to danger to humans, animals or the environment, and as long as expeditions are following the EPA guidelines - and the people want to come - then the adventures will continue.

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"Where does it say that the guides attempted to “lure, pursue or seek out” polar bears “in such a way as to disturb them?” They were simply checking the area for polar bears to access the safety for disembarking passengers. Thankfully, no guests were hurt."

Polar Bears are territorial by nature, it is clear the ships tour was looking for or seeking to find Polar Bears, how many paying guest would be happy to go on a polar bear tour and never see any bears.  So it is clear the group was trying to seek out bears.  

Now on to the second part just by landing in the territory of the bears they tour disturbed the bears, Polar Bears are  hunters they spend most of their time hurting for food. Anything within their area they can consider to be food.  If the guides did not disturbed the bear it would not have attacked. 

Is is very clear the Cruise Line was not operating within the regulations in place. You talked about the people living on the Island, which is completely different.  A town or settlement with people is in a fix area, not dropping of cruise passengers on a shore of a area with know populations of bears. Also the locals know how to deal with bears, even locals know to respect them. 

Sorry the Cruise Line loses this one.

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It’s tragic and I don’t blame the cruise line employee for shooting the bear. It was in self defense. One incident doesn’t necessarily mean big changes need to be made.  I have to agree with Jan here.  

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"It’s tragic and I don’t blame the cruise line employee for shooting the bear. It was in self defense. One incident doesn’t necessarily mean big changes need to be made.  I have to agree with Jan here. "

So by this logic if someone walks into a bank to rob it and a security guard draws his gun the robber can shoot the guard in self defense? Saying nit was self defense..... the robber cannot because he caused the reason for the guard to draw his gun.  Then the cruise line employees landed and entered the bears territory these actions caused the bear to react to the humans.

 Polar bear cubs are born November through January. Mother and cubs emerge from their den in late March or April. So you could have Cruise Ships landing passenger with clubs around. Can you really blame the bear here for defending its home and territory?

Sorry it was clearly the fault of the actions of the crew that cause this unneeded death.

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You can spin this any way you want even if that means comparing the cruise employee to a bank robber whose intent is to commit a crime.  I stand by my opinion as you stand by yours.   I hope we can agree to disagree and move on. That way we can all make this a positive place. 

Thank you. 

 

 

 

Edited by jacketwatch

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What some call spin others call the truth. In this case I feel sorry for the bears who have done absolutely nothing wrong. They are protected wild animals that should be left alone.

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Thank you for the reply. I feel sorry for the bear as well. 

That’s it for me, time to move on.

Good night and good luck. 

Happy cruising. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by jacketwatch

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