A security guard working at a British Petroleum oil field in Alaska shot and killed a polar bear. It was reported the bear had been approaching employee housing at Endicott oil field, but the reason was not included. Often when bears approach human communities it is due to garbage not being properly secured, or food left out which attracts them. A state of Alaska bear management plan for the North Slope says, “This is an extremely serious issue. Bears that learn to associate human activity with a possible meal are not only potentially dangerous, but are also at greater risk of getting killed in other areas. ” (Source: State of Alaska)
Polar bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act as threatened, but some say they deserved to have their status upgraded to endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the incident. So far it appears the security guard used a cracker shell, which is designed to explode near a bear and scare it. This one actually hit the bear, and caused internal injuries, which led to death some time after the encounter. It does seem odd that the guard aimed the cracker shell right at the bear, if the intention was to hit near it and have the explosion scare it away. The area around the North Slope, and partly within, are critical bear habitat. Oil companies working there are supposed to adhere to strict rules designed to protect wild bears. When the rules are broken, bears usually suffer or die. Mainly the problem tends to be sloppy food and garbage handling, which is what attracts the predators. What compensation will BP provide for killing the bear, and will it happen again? Polars bears reportedly are also roaming further because their habitat has been altered by climate change, an effect tied directly to oil companies and fossil fuel use.
“The most effective way to eliminate bear and human conflict is the use of bear-proof containers, which feature wildlife-proof latching systems and sturdy construction. Places where bear-proof containers are mandatory, such as National Parks, report bear conflict being practically nonexistent. Several Colorado towns including Telluride, Snowmass Village, Steamboat Springs, Basalt and Aspen require residents and businesses to use bear-proof poly cart containers and dumpsters,” says a bear awareness site. (Source: bearsmartdurango.com)
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