The injured person was immediately provided with medical care and flown to a hospital with a rescue helicopter. "In an act of self-defence, unfortunately, it was necessary for the polar bear to be shot dead".
The death of the bear at the hands of another cruise ship employee drew condemnation on social media, with some calling it "abhorrent" and others questioning killing the polar bear for "acting like a wild animal".
This is not the first time people are attacked by polar bears on Svalbard.
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He suffered a head injury, the cruise company said.
However, they failed to spot one bear who attacked one of the guards, the cruise line said.
All ships in the area are required to have guards to protect passengers from polar bears as they sightsee.
Arctic tourism to the region has risen sharply in the last few years and is now in high season.
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"He was flown out, was responsive, and is now undergoing medical treatment", spokeswoman Negar Etminan said of their employee, adding that the victim was not in a life-threatening condition.
Polar bears have become poster animals for climate change, with scientists identifying human-driven global warming as the biggest threat to the bears' continued existence.
"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".
"Landings are possible only in a few places; these are not there to serve the goal of polar bear observation, on the contrary: polar bears are only observed from aboard ships, from a safe distance. Horribly, horribly wrong", one Twitter user wrote.
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The 3,000 or so polar bears living on the main island of the Svalbard archipelago outnumber humans, according to the Norwegian government. "Almost every year a polar bear is killed in Svalbard after confrontations with humans or because of safety perspective in the settlements".