Oil Sands BearSmart Efforts and The Black Bear Partnership

Reducing bear sightings in the region requires a collaborative effort. For over two decades the oil sands industry has partnered with the Government of Alberta (GOA) to address ongoing human-bear conflicts in the Wood Buffalo region. Working with the GOA, oil sands companies have implemented BearSmart practices within their operations.

With a diverse wildlife population throughout oil sands projects and the communities where we operate, protecting species and habitats is an important consideration in project planning and management. Participating in environmental monitoring and wildlife management programs is also crucial to the safety and well-being of our workforce.

In 2012, OSCA members formed the Black Bear Joint Industry Partnership Initiative (JIP) to fund two Seasonal Problem Wildlife Technician (SPWT) positions through Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Services (FWES) in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). The Black Bear JIP is fully funded by CNRL, ConocoPhillips, Imperial, JACOS, and Suncor and partially funded by CNOOC.

Since starting the Black Bear JIP, the addition of the second SPWT position has helped fish and wildlife staff focus additional time and energy on education and providing timely responses to black bear complaints.

Program highlights:

  • Since the implementation of the OSCA Black Bear JIP, there has been a 10 to 15% annual reduction in black bears euthanized in the Wood Buffalo region.
  • Since 2013, on average, 26% more bears are released annually.
  • 70% of black bears reported are never handled, and dealt with by providing educational messaging, promoting or forcing the removal of attractants, closing public areas.
  • In 2020, there were 248 occurrences involving 323 individual bears, with 80 black bears being handled, 31 of which were relocated and 49 were euthanized.
  • In 2020, the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo region saw increased bear sightings, specifically in the urban service area. Residential areas accounted for 76% of black bear occurrence.


Access the Black Bear Brief to learn more about our partnership with FWES, program highlights and resources available to stay safe during Black Bear season.

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