Criminal charges dropped in case of polar bear shot by cruise ship guards in 2018

From Dr. Susan Crockford’s Polar Bear Science

Posted on September 5, 2020 |

Criminal charges dropped in case of polar bear shot by cruise ship guards in 2018

The guards from a cruise ship who shot an emaciated bear in self-defense in late July 2018 on the remote island of Phippsøya in northern Svalbard have had criminal charges against them dropped. It is illegal to kill polar bears in Norway, so the death of the bear automatically triggered a criminal investigation.

Polar bear shot in self defense on the island of Phippsøya in the Sjuoyene group north of Spitzbergen 28 July 2018 by guards from a cruise ship, photo courtesy Govenor of Svalbard.

This case, which made international headlines and sparked outrage at the time, also saw charges laid against the cruise ship that employed the guards. However, all charges against the company have also been dropped. See below for details on the decision and my post about the incident in 2018. No information on the condition of the bear was included in the statement about criminal charges.

Phippsøya is part of the Sjuoyene island group in northern Svalbard.

Here is the report from the Govenor of Svalbard (4 September 2020), courtesy Google Translate:

The first public prosecutor at Troms and Finnmark public prosecutor’s offices has dropped the criminal cases against the polar bear guards who shot and killed a polar bear on Phippsøya in July 2018 and against the company.

– The cases against the polar bear guards who shot and killed the polar bear have been dropped due to emergency law. This means that the act is punishable, but is considered legal because it was taken to save the life of the man who was attacked by the bear, says assistant governor Sølvi Elvedahl.

-In the case of the company, the Public Prosecutor has also not found that the conditions for punishment are present. The case against the company is therefore left to the position of the evidence, she states.

The incident happened on Saturday 28 July 2018 when four polar bear guards, an expedition leader, a photographer and a number of other crew members – a total of 14 people, from the tourist ship “Bremen” were put ashore with two zodiac boats in Isflakbukta on Phippsøya.

The polar bear guards went ashore first. Shortly after disembarking, the first two polar bear guards were sent out into the terrain to check for polar bears on the other side of a bank. The area was visible and appeared clear. However, it turned out that a polar bear was staying in a dump, so it was not visible from the boat or the beach. One polar bear guard went after the bear, who in cash attacked him.

The polar bear guard suffered head injuries after the attack, but survived. The polar bear was first shot at with frightening agents without reacting visibly to this, and without wanting to end the attack on the polar bear guard. Then three shots were fired that killed the polar bear.
– The case was documented with photos from the photographer who was involved, and the prosecution thus got a good overview of the incident, says Sølvi Elvedahl.

Criminal cases were opened against the two who shot at the polar bear and killed it – which follows from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, where it is a criminal offense to kill a polar bear.

A case was also opened against the company. The investigation focused on, among other things, whether the company had routines that properly mapped hazards and problems, as well as the company’s measures with regard to procedures for polar bears and polar bear protection.

62 thoughts on “Criminal charges dropped in case of polar bear shot by cruise ship guards in 2018

  1. Those polar bears must have had outstanding attorneys to drag it out that long. Polar bears in Norway have more rights than police in USA.

  2. Animal attacks human. Human teaches animal who is the real top tier predator on the planet. What’s the problem?

      • Good point, they’re black on the inside, like any good democrat. If they don’t vote for Biden, they ain’t polar bears.

        It’s insane that it took two years to drop charges in what was very obviously self defence.

        It’s well gone time to reintroduce hunting permits for polar bears, there are now too many of them.

        • It’s insane that it took two years to drop charges in what was very obviously self defence.


          It’s well gone time to reintroduce hunting permits for polar bears, there are now too many of them.

          Or just stop tourists going to areas inhabited by polar bears. If you think about it, we’re encroaching on their habitat, not the other way round.

          On the other hand, polar bears don’t get their 5-a-day of vegetables, so maybe encourage greens to the area would be humane thing to do.

          • +42^42 for hunting permits for feral horses in the Great Basin, brians356. Anyway, it was euthanasia for the emaciated polar bear. It should be a normal practice.

  3. “Error 404 2Oops, the page you were looking for is no longer here.”

    TVNZ seem to have pulled the article. In fact the link suggests that it was an article critical of “morons” condemning the shooting. Probably not PC in NZ and got pulled.

    • You are brain dead there griff.
      There are always going to be starving PB’s in the wild just as there are going to be homeless, hungry humans in wealthy cities. See for example: San Francisco, aka Libtard Central.
      Apparently you think one photographed individual is indicative of the entire population.

      Statistical tail distributions of populations eludes your brain Griff. Emotions rule your world, not logic.

    • How did Polar Bears survive the warm periods optima since the last Ice Age, when the Arctic was ice-free in Summer?

    • Wow 270 bears then a couple of good hunting parties should save the bears from climate change and solve the problem.

    • griff
      Thanks for the reminder. Have you ever apologized to Susan for saying she wasn’t a scientist?

    • you don’t need biologists in the Artic counting bears.
      Just listen to the Inuit. They have been telling people they are up to their ass’ in polar bears for years.

    • They are suffering so much that numbers are expanding and the bears are getting fatter.

      There isn’t a shred of scientific evidence supporting the belief that Polar Bears need sea ice to survive.
      If fact they survived quite well 10,000 years ago when world wide temperatures were 3 to 5C warmer than they are today.

      • They do need sea ice during late winter-spring when they hunt seals. Not the rest of the year.

        And there were Polar Bears on Svalbard during the previous interglacial when the Arctic was 5-10 degrees warmer than now.

    • AGAIN with the LIES from Griff.

      Sea ice left Svalbard around August 1st this year

      The following years were also free of sea ice by August 1.

      1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2018..

      This FACT has been deliberately and deceitfully ignored by griff, just so it can push its lies and deceits.

      There is NOTHING unusual about the sea ice this year, except that its still far above the 10,000 year norm.

    • “Barents sea ice is in serious decline also”

      Another LIE.

      For most of the year it was above the 15 year average.

      And still FAR above the 10,000 year normal

    • No bears left from when there was no sea ice around Svalbard even in summer in 1922.

      Such a pity..

      …. that you are such a liar. !!

    • “In much of the last decade the ice edge has retreated quickly a long way north of Svalbard, as it has done this year.”

      Just like it did in the 1930’s. Incidentally the ice didn’t melt until late August, which is hardly “quickly”.

      By the way, polar bears also den on the sea-ice.

  4. “However, it turned out that a polar bear was staying in a dump, so it was not visible from the boat or the beach.”

    Reference to a “dump” must mean there was human habitation nearby. Perhaps cleaning up the dumps would be a good idea for bears and humans.

  5. I don’t really understand the appeal of taking an Arctic cruise in the first place. Is it just for the casino?

    • No! With global warming they can sit on the promenade in loungers wearing their bathing suits and working on their tans while stewards in shorts serve them Pina Coladas while watching the starving polar bears.

  6. September 2007 sea ice extent was 4.28 million km² (1.65 million mi²)
    September 2010 sea ice extent was 4.60 million km² (1.78 million mi²)
    September 2012 sea ice extent was 3.41 million km² (1.32 million mi²)
    September 2015 sea ice extent was 4.41 million km² (1.70 million mi²)
    September 2019 sea ice extent was 4.15 million km² (1.60 million mi²)


    Last report from NSIDC on September 1st sea ice extent was 4.26 million km² (1.64 million mi²) pretty much the same as it was 13 years ago, more than last year and a lot more than it was 8 years ago.

    Of course climate alarmists are generally very quiet around March when the sea ice is at it’s maximum, this year, March 2020 sea ice maximum was about 15.05 million km² (5.81 million mi²). For comparison 15.64 million km² (6.04 million mi²) is the 1981 to 2010 average.

    March is a rather important time of year because it’s when the female bears and their cubs come out of their dens, hunting begins in earnest, and nursing continues for the next 3 months. A rather more important time of year I would argue than September in terms of the survival of the species, and this year they had plenty of ice, with plenty of hunting opportunities.

    Mating generally occurs during this period as well, late March to May, when there’s plenty of food, and there is still plenty of ice around to go get a girlfriend, especially if you can smell her 100 km away.

    Polar bears have “delayed implantation” of fertilised eggs, allowing the females time to fatten up before retiring to a den for the 4 month gestation period, which they do normally around the end of autumn October/November, not in September.

    Svalbard and the islands of the group, range from 74° to 81° north latitude. The distance between degrees of latitude here is about 111 km or 69 miles.
    Last year around the end of October the area from 82°N to the North Pole was completely covered by ice, with major sea ice extensions down to 78°N, notably around Svalbard, a major denning region.
    To the south, the sea ice extended to Spitzbergen, Franz Josef Land (also many dens) and Severnaya Zemlya where it also reached the Russian mainland.

    Just to add a little understated fact, adult bears are very powerful swimmers and can spend days at a time in the water and travel very long distances at sea, it is after all a Marine Mammal.

    Getting back to the ice, March 2020 ice extent was the highest since 2013, the average temperature for March was -16.2°C which is 0.5 degrees under the normal, and ice had been seen all the way to Bear Island, the southernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, 240 km south of the main island.

    It was also reported that the waters east of Svalbard in the Barents Sea had seen more southern ice extent than in previous years. In Russian waters, the entire Kara Sea was ice-covered, with ice stretching as far south as the Pechora Sea south of the Vaygach island.

  7. When it takes a long time (over two years here) for a prosecutor to drop charges, the process is being used as the punishment.

    • Exactly, the new meme of 2020, you shall be viciously attacked for defending yourself.

      Sounds quite Marxist to me.

  8. “No information on the condition of the bear was included in the statement about criminal charges.”

    The bear is still dead.

    • Usually you keep a very good lookout for Polar Bears when in Svalbard. They are usually easy to spot, however in this case the bear was apparently lying in ambush. This is not typical behavior, but apparently it was old and starving. Most bears you see in summer are fat and fortunately not particularly hungry, though if they get a chance for an easy meal they will probably take it.

      Note that it was actually one of the guards that were scouting the area, not one of the tourists, that was attacked.

Comments are closed.