Oil sands development casualties in Fort McMurray, Alberta

Photos from Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, by Kris Krug

Vancouver photographer and web strategist Kris Krug shared his thoughts and spectacular photos just after his trip to For McMurray, Alberta, where he was shooting for a film and article series of the oil sands issue for DeSmogblog, an environmental news site. 

"There's clearly a tension," he said, of his experience speaking to people in Fort McMurray.

"You can imagine, you're working to earn some money for your family and help them get ahead, yet this place is now internationally relevant.

A lot of people feel like they're getting heat from outside and constantly justifying the existence of their community."

Krug's photos depict Alberta's sprawling oil fields, with towers of smoke rising against a stark landscape covered by snow. But in addition to simply destroying natural habitat, oil companies may now be involved in directly killing off wildlife in the area, according to a new report.

Killing wolves to save an industry's reputation

The government of Alberta is planning to initiate a large-scale wolf slaughter, according to DeSmogblog. An estimated 6,000 wolves will be gunned down from helicopters above, or killed by poison strychnine bait planted deep in the forest.

But why a wolf cull, and why now?

On the surface, the wolf cull is being implemented to protect northern Alberta’s woodland caribou, a species that in recent years has become critically threatened. Rather than cracking down on industrial development that has cause the decline in caribou population, the Albertan government has scapegoated the animal's natural predator -- wolves. 

Studies by biologists advising strongly against the cull have been ignored or suppressed. In some regions, a wolf cull has already begun, claiming the lives of more than 500 wolves

The Alberta Caribou Committee, which is apparently spearheading the movement to save the endangered caribou, is supported by the very companies that have led to the animal's decline.
The committee, the report states, is so heavily dominated by timber, oil and gas interests, their public list of members "reads like an industry convention brochure." Koch Petroleum Canada, BP Canada, Shell and Petro Canada are among the group's sponsoring 'partners'. 
If such companies scaled back on their activities, endangered wildlife such as the caribou in Alberta may see an increase in numbers, environmentalists suggest.
But in the meantime, the wolves have been marked for death.  
Read more about the issue here.

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