US & Canada

Large black bear kills female Canadian Suncor worker

The Suncor tar sands mining operation near Fort McMurray, Alberta, on 3 November 2011 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Suncor Energy Inc tar sands mining operation is located in Alberta wildlife territory

An energy company worker has been killed by a black bear at a base in the tar sands region of the Canadian province of Alberta, the firm has said.

The 36-year-old woman was declared dead at the scene on Wednesday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police later shot and killed the male bear, which had remained in the area.

Bears are emerging from hibernation near the Suncor Energy Inc oil sands mining operation, 25km (15.5m) north of Fort McMurray.

"We are shocked by this very unusual incident and there are no words to express the tragedy of this situation," Suncor executive vice-president Mark Little wrote in a statement.

"All of us need to focus on personal safety and I would urge everyone to be extremely vigilant in dealing with wildlife."

The energy company is working with authorities to investigate the incident and plans to release the name of the victim after her family is notified.

A spokesman for Canadian Occupational Health and Safety said the attack was an unusual occurrence in the area.

"This is the first that I'm aware of having a worker either seriously injured or killed by a bear of any variety," Barrie Harrison told CBC News.

"We have a lot of different environments in this province of ours, we have lots of different types of wildlife," he added. "For the most part, companies are very good at understanding what the hazards are and having mechanisms in place to deal with those hazards."

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