Polar Bears and Oil & Gas: What They’re Saying

May 23, 2017 in Blog, Featured

A few weeks back, AEC blogged on the collaborative efforts between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Polar Bear team and Hilcorp Alaska. The company worked with multiple conservationist groups and the local regulators to ensure that a pregnant polar bear’s den would be undisturbed by Hilcorp’s North Slope operations.. Since the post was published, the story has attracted attention nationally and been widely discussed on social media, and we’ve compiled a few of those highlights below.

The Associated Press published a widely circulated article on the polar bear protection story that included an excellent summary of events:

“As a threatened species, polar bears are entitled to peaceful pregnancies and the operating oil company, Hilcorp Alaska LLC, took vigorous measures to make sure that happened. In consultation with federal wildlife authorities, Hilcorp restricted traffic on the causeway, monitored the den and kept things mostly quiet until mother and cub emerged three months later.”

Alaskan TV station KTUU reported on the polar bears in multiple news shows, and highlighted the work and planning done by Hilcorp:

“A pregnant polar bear took a risk over the winter and built a den next to an active oil production facility. The den was discovered in December under a bridge on the industrial roadway to the Endicott Island production facility. Hilcorp immediately began following plans previously developed in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to minimize disturbance to the denning bear.”

A Forbes column summarized the story and the expected activist reaction to it saying:

“Hilcorp then worked with USFWS to develop and execute a plan to ensure that the mother was left undisturbed for three months, until she and her cub emerged and eventually left the area to go hunt for food. […] The conflict groups who make up the anti-fossil fuel lobby will have a hard time coming up with a negative angle to this story, though they will no doubt try their best.”

Polar Bears International, another conservation group that played an important part in this effort in this effort tweeted:

“We love when success stories make the news! Grateful for the partnerships that helped us protect this denning pair.”

Christopher Putnam, a biologist with USFWS praised the joint effort saying:

“Good planning and collaboration helped turn this into a great success story”

As we’ve stated previously, Arctic energy development and conservation CAN coexist. It’s clear that Hilcorp and the .U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would agree.