An employee at Suncor Energy’s main oil sands operation was killed by a black bear Wednesday.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was attacked by a bear in the early afternoon. According to the Globe & Mail, when the RCMP responded to the call, “the male bear was still in the area and it was ‘shot and killed by RCMP members.’”
Oil sands operations in Northern Alberta are smack dab in the middle of “prime bear and wildlife territory.” However, the bulk of the operations are massive open-pit mines that generally don’t attract much by way of wildlife, other than the occasional flock or two of dumb birds. But grizzly and black bears are coming out of hibernation after a long winter, and are known to venture farther afield in search of food at this time of year.
Alberta Occupational Health and Safety spokesman Barrie Harrison told the Globe that it is currently “not clear the type of area the employee was in or how she came into contact with the bear.” Suncor executives said the company is “shocked by this very unusual incident and there are no words to express the tragedy of this situation.”
Here at the Albatross, we’ve long reported on the Bear Problem and other bizarre encounters between man and beast that inevitably occur when the frontiers of civilization are pushed ever deeper into the terra incognita of the Canadian wilds. This latest development is tragic indeed. Yet at the same time, it is a tragedy that has played itself out since time immemorial, and the details are so downright Canadian that even the late Farley Mowat could not have invented them.
The unfortunate death was also the third death at Suncor alone in 2014, a shocking reminder of the human cost of major developments, and an aspect of “ethical oil” you’d be hard-pressed to hear about from industry shills like Ezra Levant. And while bear attacks at major industrial sites are the stuff of *ahem* killer headlines, the “routine” deaths of low-level workers often fail to garner the attention of this kind of bizarre and tragic attack.
[image via Valerie/Flickr]