Alberta Oil Sands Partly to Blame for Killing of 145 Bears in 2011

Mr Empey/CC BY 2.0

The Alberta Oil Sands have been called "the most destructive project on earth" and now, there's a new item on the list of economic and environmental costs. Last year, Canada Wildlife Officers shot 145 problematic black bears in the region.

A bad berry crop last summer and careless handling of food and trash at the miner camps have been blamed for the dramatic increase in bear encounters. In 2010, 52 black bears where shot.

"It’s a very disturbing fact to hear and it’s one more cost of oilsands development that we need to look at...the fact that these numbers are so high is definitely very worrying," Mike Hudema of Greenpeace commented.

"Any kind of wildlife fatality is too many for these companies from their perspective and obviously they take it seriously,” commented Travis Davies, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, “it’s just a matter of a high number of bears in the area.”

That said, Alberta Wilderness Association conservation specialist Carolyn Campbell called the attitude towards bears—and wildlife in general—primitive. "There needs to be much more responsible behavior by companies running these camps to really get serious about reducing food and other attractants," she said, "the attitude of ‘attract them, feed them and then shoot’ them is really repugnant to most Albertans."

This was not the first major loss of wildlife due to the tarsands project. In 2008, for example, 1,600 ducks perished in a tailings pond.

Tags: Animals | Conservation