Northern Alberta may now be best known for the basin of crude sitting in sandy deposits below the soil, but the development of the province’s unconventional oil deposits has spawned an even more unconventional side industry: Duck hazing.
Countless birds are killed annually by hunting, hitting windows and wind turbines — the latter dubbed the “Cuisinarts of the Air.” Toronto’s habit of keeping its office towers lit at night kills about 14,000 birds a year.
Yet the image of ducks soaked in oil has become indelibly connected with the evils of the energy industry, as potent a symbol as a polar bear on a melting Arctic icefloe.
The dead birds also have real costs for oil companies, not just in fines, but as bad PR.
“A person who buys a hunting licence kills more birds than we do every year,” said Calvin Duane, manager of environment for Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNR).
“We will spend millions to not kill any ducks.”
Each dead duck has to be reported to the provincial government.