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ENDICOTT OIL FIELD-The investigation into the killing of a polar bear with a pyrotechnic shell is continuing according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement. The incident occurred at the Endicott Oil pad located 2.5 miles off-shore in the Beaufort Sea.
According to reports, on August 3rd, an unnamed Purcell security guard at the facility encountered a polar bear progressing down the causeway that connects the facility to shore. He attempted to discourage the bear from advancing further by sounding his siren and horn as well as by flashing his lights, but the bear continued to advance towards the facility and act aggressively. It was then, that according to reports, that the security guard aimed a shotgun and fired what he thought was a bean bag round at the bear striking it and causing it to retreat.
The incident was reported to Fish and Wildlife and ongoing reports were given to them in the days after. The bear continued coming and going for for several days. On the 15th of August, it was discovered that the bear had died. Fish and Wildlife conducted an investigation of the carcass on August 16th and discovered that it had been shot with a pyrotechnic round that had done internal damage that had caused the bear’s death.
BP Spokesman Steve Rinehart said that BP had followed protocol and that, “We did what we felt we were authorized to do, which is to keep the Fish and Wildlife Service regularly apprised of the bear. They directed us to keep people away from it and to keep other bears away from it, we actually did keep some other bears away from it. And to see what happened.”
Both pyrotechnic ammo and bean bag ammo are the proper rounds for bear deterrence under the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s protocol. But, while one, the bean-bag round is used to strike the offending bear and scare it of, the other, the pyrotechnic round is meant to be fired in the front of the animal to halt its advance.
Rinehart says BP is investigating their procedures and will make changes, such as having a second person available at the scent to make sure the ammo is verified as to its type before discharge. They also intend to make sure packaging and labeling of the specific types of ammo are readily identifiable.
The investigation continues as to why the guard fired one round while meaning to fire the other. The guard in the incident has since been moved to duties off of the slope.