In mid-September, around 7,50o migrating birds were killed when they flew into a gas flare at a natural gas facility in New Brunswick. Yesterday morning, officers from Environment Canada stormed into the facility in search of evidence that could help them in the investigation.
The incident happened when thousands of songbirds, including some endangered species, were drawn to the flare at the Canaport gas plant in Saint John. An estimated 6,800 birds were killed over the course of several hours, while hundreds more were injured and had to be put down. The flare tower is about 100 meters (30 meters) tall and frequently shoots out flames of varying intensities depending on weather conditions. Facility officials do this to maintain normal operating pressure by burning off small amounts of excess natural gas.
Don McAlpine, head of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum, told the CBC the birds were "drawn like moths to a light."
And now, with search warrant in hand, Environment Canada wildlife officers combed through the facility — but it's not clear what they seized.
A spokesperson for the facility said the flare has been turned off owing to continuing upgrades, and that the company is fully co-operating with investigators.
This has made naturalist groups happy. The CBC reports:
In an open letter published on Tuesday, Nature New Brunswick urged regulators to pursue this investigation.
"Nature New Brunswick has been concerned right from Day 1,” said Jim Wilson, a birder and naturalist speaking for the group.
"They have a duty to be doing this, and you know they have a fair amount of clout when it comes to investigations, so yeah, I'm pleased that they are at least looking at this seriously," said Wilson.