Sunday, October 21, 2018
Nation & World

Killing of polar bear sparks debate on tourism

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 from the MS Bremen that set foot on the northern-most 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 cruise ship encroach upon territory known as a habitat for the vulnerable species.

Svalbard is dotted with warnings about polar bears. Currently, about 3,000 polar bears call the islands home. For scale, Svalbardís human population is around 2,400. Visitors who choose to sleep outdoors receive stern warnings from authorities that people must carry firearms while moving outside of settlements.

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."

Polar bears are classified as vulnerable by the World Wildlife Fund. Climate change is threatening their sea ice habitat and their current global population ranges from 22,000 to 31,000, according to the WWF.

The image of the dead polar bear provoked fierce outcry on social media, with many criticizing the cruise line for intruding on the bear in its natural habitat and calling for boycotts. The bearís death, which some have called "heartbreaking" and "needless," has reignited concerns over tourism and its potential to disrupt the environments of remote areas.

"?ĎLetís get too close to a polar bear in its natural environment and then kill it if it gets too close.í Morons," English comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted.

"Hereís a thought. Why not look at the bears from afar and leave them alone," biologist Daniel Schneider wrote on Twitter.

Others, however, argued that killing the bear was the right thing to do because it saved the manís life. One Twitter user wrote that people who are taking the bearís side "need to have their heads examined."

While polar bear attacks are generally rare, this is not the first time a person has been injured by the bears in the Svalbard islands. It is also not unusual for the bear to be killed as a result.

In 2015, a polar bear dragged a Czech tourist out of his tent as he and others were camping north of Longyearbyen ó Svalbardís the main settlement ó clawing his back before being driven away by gunshots. Jakub Moravec, who was slightly injured, was among a group of six on a combined ski and snow scooter trip on the remote islands. The bear was eventually found and killed by local authorities.

The animal killed Saturday was transported to Longyearbyen to be routinely examined, Malmo said.

The Washington Post contributed to this story.

Comments
Dozens hurt in floor collapse at S. Carolina apartment party

Dozens hurt in floor collapse at S. Carolina apartment party

The floor of a clubhouse near Clemson University where a large party was taking place collapsed early Sunday, hurtling dozens of people into the basement, authorities said.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Saudi explanation of Khashoggi's death is widely dismissed as a coverup

Saudi explanation of Khashoggi's death is widely dismissed as a coverup

A spokesman for Turkey's ruling party vowed Saturday that the government would "uncover what has happened" to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as skepticism mounted over Saudi Arabia's account that
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trump says US will pull out of intermediate range nuke pact

Trump says US will pull out of intermediate range nuke pact

ELKO, Nevada — President Donald Trump says he will pull United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.Trump says Moscow has violated the agreement, but provided no details.The 1987 pact helps protect the security ...
Published: 10/20/18
Conservatives mount a whisper campaign smearing Khashoggi in defense of Trump

Conservatives mount a whisper campaign smearing Khashoggi in defense of Trump

WASHINGTON - Hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators are mounting a dark whisper campaign against Jamal Khashoggi that is designed to protect President Donald Trump from criticism of his handling of the dissident journalist's alleged murd...
Published: 10/19/18
In North Carolina, hurricanes convince some Republicans that climate change is real

In North Carolina, hurricanes convince some Republicans that climate change is real

It took a giant laurel oak puncturing her roof during Hurricane Florence last month for Margie White to consider that perhaps there was some truth to all the alarm bells over global warming.
Published: 10/18/18
Trump says 'certainly looks' as if Khashoggi is dead as pressure mounts on Saudi Arabia

Trump says 'certainly looks' as if Khashoggi is dead as pressure mounts on Saudi Arabia

President Donald Trump said Thursday it appears that Jamal Khashoggi is dead and warned that his administration could consider "very severe" measures against Saudi Arabia, sharply raising pressures on
Published: 10/18/18
Israel's Supreme Court overturns deportation of Florida student

Israel's Supreme Court overturns deportation of Florida student

Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday overturned an appeals court ruling that agreed with the government's decision to bar an American graduate student from entering the country over her alleged involvem
Published: 10/18/18
Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression

Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression

The Washington Post's Global Opinions editor says Jamal Khashoggi's final column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for.
Published: 10/18/18
Three things you need to know before you go to Canada for some legal weed

Three things you need to know before you go to Canada for some legal weed

Before you go to Canada to smoke weed, there are some things you need to know.
Published: 10/17/18
Saudi Arabia transfers $100 million to US amid crisis over Khashoggi

Saudi Arabia transfers $100 million to US amid crisis over Khashoggi

The United States received a payment of $100 million from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khasho
Published: 10/17/18