Black Bear Killings Near Alberta Tar Sands Increase Three-Fold

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Black bear scavenges at a dump. Photo: Flickr/Mr Emprey

As the debate rages over the environmental costs and benefits of oil derived from the tar sands in northern Alberta, wildlife near a major extraction area is already coming out on the losing end.

Alberta wildlife officials killed 145 black bears last year within tar sands areas because the bears had become habituated to garbage. Nearly half of those bears were shot in the tar sands camps and facilities that have been erected around near Fort McMurray, a major tar sands production region, according to the Calgary Herald.  

Darcy Whiteside with the Canadian government's Alberta Sustainable Resources Council, told the newspaper that the number of black bears killed near Fort McMurray last year was three times as many as in 2010, and the highest number in recent history. 

After President Obama rejected the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which would bring oil derived from the Alberta oil sands to the Texas Gulf Coast, TransCanada last week said it will build a smaller pipeline, which will start in Oklahoma, thereby avoiding the environmentally sensitive Ogallala Aquifer. The company says it also plans to re-apply for the federal approval it needs to build the full, trans-border pipeline.

“There needs to be much more responsible behaviour by companies running these camps to really get serious about reducing food and other attractants. . . . The attitude of ‘attract them, feed them and then shoot’ them is really repugnant to most Albertans,” Carolyn Campbell, a conversation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association told the newspaper.

–Mary Catherine O'Connor

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