FORT NELSON, British Columbia, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- An oil and gas exploration and production firm based in Houston faces no penalties after a contractor killed a black bear in British Columbia, authorities said.
The contractor for Apache Corp. was clearing land about 60 miles northwest of Fort Nelson last week when a piece of mulching equipment ran over and killed the bear, which had been hibernating in a shallow den, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.
The company contacted the Fort Nelson First Nation, which directed Apache to stop work at the location and asked the company to develop a plan to prevent a similar mistake.
Lana Lowe of the Fort Nelson First Nation Lands Department told the CBC the bear's death "as a result of oil and gas activities in our territory is absolutely unacceptable to our community and to who we are as a people."
"We view the bears as our cousins," Lowe said.
"Bears are an important species, not only ecologically but spiritually," she said.
Lowe said the company was permitted to resume operations Thursday, but not in areas where it is likely to run across more bear dens.
The British Columbia Conservation Officer Service said it concluded the bear's death was an "unfortunate accident." Neither Apache nor the contractor faces penalties.