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terrays | May 14, 2009 01:17 PM

Encana has a bit of a reputation for looking out for wildlife. Though predictably, it's an ambiguous  one. High Country News has covered the oil and gas company's efforts to trade habitat restoration dollars for sweetheart lease deals, and its practice of padding drill sites to minimize vegetation impacts. Those moves may not add up to much more than a "perfumed pig" -- as Wyoming Governor Freudenthal once put it -- but still, the company's latest effort in the general area of wildlife awareness piqued my interest. Recently, Encana teamed up with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to produce a DVD titled: "Wildlife in Colorado: what you should know." The 15-minute reel will be shown to oil and gas workers before they're dispatched to the field, and I was curious to see what it would cover. During an average day on the job what can a worker do, I wondered, to reduce the impacts of such an important, and such a dirty, industry?

I haven't found the video available online, so I called Encana for a copy. Obviously, I misunderstood the point. I came away from it with the impression that, at least in terms of impacts, there's not much difference between a day at the gas fields and a trip to Yosemite.  Close those dumpsters and don't feed the rodents, suggest the two DOW staff who host the piece. Leave those raptor feathers where you found 'em and if the sage grouse lek or wild turkey roost is rocking, don't come a knockin'.

But that's only a third of the video. With the other ten minutes, DOW and Encana decided to take a different tack. Instead of telling workers how to protect the wildlife, they told workers how to protect themselves from the wildlife -- and also, how best to eat it. Bears aren't your friends. Keep an eye peeled for rattlers. Run from a moose but don't, definitely don't, turn tail in front of a cougar. If you see a poacher report him. Buy your game tags here and if you hit an elk, go ahead and eat it. But remember to get a permit in the morning.

All in all, the video is less an educational tool than a meet-and-greet: roughnecks, let us introduce your new neighbors. They may be irascible, but at least they're tasty. 

But oh wait, one clip in the video did speak directly to the oil and gas industry -- in an indirect sort of way. If you spill something in a stream, the video suggests, be sure to report it.


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