End the Trend of Killing Polar Bears for Tourism’s Sake

Target: Ellen Hambro, Director General of the Norwegian Environment Agency

Goal: Protest the killing of a polar bear defending its home.

A man suffered serious injury and was near-death, while a critically endangered animal lost its life. This is the latest legacy from unneeded, dangerous tourism practices in the Arctic. Now, the one snapshot tourists of a German cruise ship will likely remember will not be an image of beautiful mountains, snow, and tundra. Rather, the lasting picture from this excursion will be the bloodied carcass of a polar bear shot by the sea.

The tragedy unfolded when a German-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises ship took tourists to a group of islands near the North Pole–islands  often dubbed an ‘Arctic fairy tale’ for their wondrous scenery. Fairy tale would soon turn to genuine nightmare, however, when polar bear guards (individuals meant to block a harmful encounter with the native bears) disembarked ahead of the tour group. After a bear spotted one of the guards encroaching on its habitat, it allegedly charged at the man and wounded him. The other guards had allegedly tried other methods to scare away the polar bear before tragically resorting to deadly force.

While this incident may have been unavoidable in the moment, the true outrage lies in such a potentially deadly and dangerous situation being allowed in the first place. Scientists have long warned that climate change, melting ice, and subsequent changes in food supplies are essentially forcing polar bears into territories where human encounters and aggression levels are higher. Officials in these regions post plentiful warnings about the dangers of polar bear encounters, but they still enable, and even seemingly encourage, reckless tourist intrusions.

Sign this petition to demand those responsible for preserving these picturesque lands put protection ahead of profit and curb activities that will facilitate more slaughter.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director General Hambro,

A polar bear mauls a camping man in the back, dragging him away from friends. Another bear attacks an ‘adventurer’ group. The German cruise line employees who allegedly shot an attacking bear likely had similar flashes of doom streaking through their minds when they took deadly action.

Who put them in this position, caught between killing a critically endangered animal or saving the life of one of their own? When you sanction so much tourist activity in these wildlands, do you think about he individuals killed and maimed, or the many more polar bears that have faced a sudden death in the past few decades? Do you consider how each of these ‘necessary’ deaths diminishes just a little more a population that even now exists only in the low thousands?

If these questions have plagued you, or do plague you now in the wake of the most recent tragedy, please take action. Reevaluate the tourism policies that are further endangering a cherished native creature already driven from its habitat by climate change and human inaction.

Save the polar bears. Save lives.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Flickr Favorites

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