Be Bear Aware
It’s spring, and in ‘bear country’ communities, such as the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, that means hibernation season is coming to an end and bear safety is top of mind.
The Bear Management Program at Suncor works to ensure the safety of both our workers and the bears that live on and near our regional sites. We continuously improve the program, which includes waste management, training, personal protective equipment, education, field assessments, sighting reporting, response, and bear tracking as the science and research on bears and safety techniques evolve.
During bear sighting responses, trained specialists patrol the areas on-site and respond to the sightings, which occur mainly during active bear season - usually April to mid-October. Trained wildlife monitors accompany crews working in a known wildlife habitat to respond to any bears sightings to ensure the safety of both the bear and crew.
This important work is conducted by a contracted Indigenous business, Three Feathers, and their sub-contractor company, Bear Scare. Three Feathers has been our main contractor for this work since 2019, and previously we worked with Bear Scare for many years. The cooperation of these two companies has been beneficial to both them and Suncor, as many of Bear Scare’s workers are retired Fish and Wildlife officers or park rangers with many years of experience, creating a great mentorship opportunity for the local Indigenous workers.
The bear management program uses a technique called ‘aversive conditioning’ to train the bears to not become habituated to humans and human behaviour. Non-lethal deterrents, such as noise deterrents, are used consistently towards bears displaying undesired behaviour. The goal of aversive conditioning is to teach bears to avoid humans and run away by preventing them from learning and using habituated behaviours.