This Article is part of the Tar Sands Reporting Project special report See the full report

Kitimat hunters fear a future Enbridge oil spill ‘wiping out’ wild game

A northern hunter was surprised to learn just how close a potential oil pipeline breach would impact his family personally.  It's the second story in our series - Along The Line -- exploring northern views of the Northern Gateway project.

Vancouver Observer Along the Line

Moose kill map on Google Earth view of Enbridge pipeline route
Enbridge oil pipeline spill - controlled explosion - Minnesota 2002 - USDT
First image: Langegger family at a moose kill location in 2012, on a Google Earth map showing the Northern Gateway pipeline in route in dark brown; second image: 2002 controlled explosion of an Enbridge oil spill in Minnesota

Mike Langegger recalls the autumn moment two years ago when he, his son Adam, and daughter Hannah spotted a moose a stone’s throw away in a valley just outside Kitimat in northwest B.C. 

The rutting beast could easily have charged at the family with its dangerous antlers.  But Langegger coaxed the bull to come closer.

“I did a series of cow calls, and it came out of the willow patch about 25 to 40 yards away.”

Hannah, 13 at the time, aimed one of the family’s many rifles.  With her pulse racing, and eye on the scope, she fired a single shot.  The moose fell.

They approached the creature excitedly, but with mixed feelings too.

“[We] took the animal’s life, [so] there’s some remorse there.  But the animal also made it’s way to our dinner table.”

“It was an incredible family moment,” said the father Wednesday.

Mike Langegger moose kill with kids

Pipeline worries

But such experiences could be threatened by the Northern Gateway pipeline, said Langegger.

The industrial power engineer, who is a well-known hunter in area, has long spoken out against the project.  Like many citizens who will soon vote in an April 12th Kitimat plebiscite regarding the $6.5 billion pipeline, he's done a lot of research into Enbridge.

He's uncovered more than a dozen examples of the company's oil pipeline spills in the last decade, and worries that future spills could be much worse in northern B.C. -- and the impacts could potentially "wipe out" wild game and fish.

“For those of us that call coastal British Columbia home, the existing environment, fish, wildlife, and associated values are the foundation of who we are,” he told the Joint Review Panel in 2012.

“It is those values that the Northern Gateway Project ultimately threatens to extinguish,” said Langegger, to the applause of many in the hearing room.

He expects "hundreds" of hunters like him will vote against the oil sands pipeline.

Surprise proximity of pipeline

But what Langegger did not know until a recent conversation with the Vancouver Observer was just how close the proposed pipeline is to an area he hunts.

“Wow.”

“That pipeline, according to that map, would come within 700 metres of where that moose was shot,” reacted Langegger.

He was shown a more detailed Enbridge consultant’s map of the pipeline’s route near Kitimat than he had seen before.  An additional Google Earth map -- provided by Living Ocean -- also helped him visualize how close the pipeline comes to where the moose was downed.  

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