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Bear attacks, kills oil sands worker in Canada

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The Suncor Energy Inc. base plant at the Athabasca Oil Sands near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.

EDMONTON, Canada — A bear attacked and killed a worker at an oil sands plant in western Canada Wednesday, authorities said.

The attack took place at a Suncor Energy base plant, 200 miles north of Edmonton. The female employee was killed by a mature male black bear in the North Steepbank Mine, described as a “remote part of the main plant,” CTV reported.

“We are shocked by this very unusual incident and there are no words to express the tragedy of this situation,” said Mark Little, a Suncor executive vice president. “All of us need to focus on personal safety and I would urge everyone to be extremely vigilant in dealing with wildlife.”

The company said the woman’s name won’t be released without the consent of the family. Suncor said is cooperating with “appropriate authorities and will complete a full investigation” into the incident.

Between 1900 and 2009, 63 people were killed in 59 black bear attacks in Canada and the United States, according to a 2011 Journal of Wildlife Management report. The study concludes that as human populations and developments rise, so have bear attacks.

The bear in the Wednesday attack was put down.

Barrie Harrison with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety told CBC News that officials are now looking into whether the employee was alone when the attack occurred.

“I do know that, certainly from an Occupational Health and Safety perspective, this is the first that I’m aware of having a worker either seriously injured or killed by a bear of any variety,” Harrison said.

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