Oil companies have gotten a bad rap for hating on polar bears, both for warming up their environment and for opposing efforts to protect the bears under the Endangered Species Act. But the oil giant BP one-upped everyone on that front this week, as it came to light that a security guard at the company’s oil field in Alaska’s North Slope shot and killed a polar bear earlier this month.
Via Alaska Dispatch:
The death appears to have been accidental, according to BP Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart, who said the guard thought he’d fired a bean bag round at the female bear but BP later discovered it was a “cracker shell” that mortally wounded her.
The polar bear death is the first time in 35 years of working on the North Slope that a bear has been killed by a security guard working for BP, Rinehart said.
“We dearly wish it had not happened,” Rinehart said, “but it’s not a trend or a population impact. We have worked safely and carefully around polar bears under strict guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Polar bears are considered a “threatened species,” while not officially on the “endangered” list. But it’s still illegal to kill them. The US Fish and Wildlife Service says they are investigating the shooting. Bill Snape, a lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the group is looking into their legal options for pursuing this if the federal government doesn’t prosecute.