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Friday, July 6, 2012

Birds and Oil Tankers: A Deadly Mix

In spite of the fact that at least some of Enbridge's oil tanks are decorated with illustrations of Canada Geese in flight, oil tankers and birds are a deadly combination.

Almost all the largest oil companies are currently mining and drilling in the Boreal forest and wetlands where more than half of the birds of North America nest. According to the National Resources Defence Council's December 2008 report, Danger in the Nursery: Impact on Birds of Tar Sands Oil Development in Canada’s Boreal Forest, over the next 30 to 50 years between 6 million and 166 million birds will be lost as a result of tar sands development.

The report highlights the following six concerns:
  • when birds land in tar sands tailing ponds, they become covered in oil, suffocate, and die
  • oil sands drilling = loss of bird habitat that could harm up to 14.5 million breeding birds
  • fragmentation of bird habitat could result in the loss of as many as 76 million birds
  • water withdrawal to support tar sands projects could negatively impact hundreds of thousands of birds dependent on the wetland habitats
  • tar sands air and water pollution, which causes the accumulation of toxins in tissues, can lead to weakened birds, problems with reproduction, and, ultimately, death
  • global warming (the tar sands are Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions) affects migratory birds that may arrive too late to find food because insects emerge earlier in the spring. And birds that hoard food to get through the winter so they can start feeding their young in the spring may find that the food spoils before the first freeze.
I will be writing more about the relationship between bird mortality and the oil sands in August's Just for the Birds column in The Flying Shingle. In the meantime ...

It's easy – just add your name to the Dogwood Initiative's NO TANKERS petition

Dogwood has mounted a massive campaign to stop oil tankers in BC waters.
Every name on the petition will help.

Thank you. Please tell your friends too!