Encana Corp. agreed last week to pay $200,000 in fines and community service payments for violating the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act in Colorado and Wyoming, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver said.

Denver-based subsidiary Encana Oil & Gas Inc. pleaded guilty last Thursday in the deaths of about 55 protected birds, including waterfowl and owls, over a four-year period at uncovered natural gas reserve pits and wastewater storage tanks in the Piceance Basin of Colorado and in Wyoming's Sweetwater, Sublette and Lincoln counties.

The company entered the plea in federal court in Denver and was ordered to pay $30,000 for two misdemeanor counts. The court also fined Encana $170,000 in community service payments. The fines are to be deposited in the federally administered North American Wetlands Conservation Fund.

Since the violations occurred, Encana said it has spent more than $3 million on bird protection measures at plants in Colorado and Wyoming. Additional bird protection measures also are to be installed at shale gas facilities in Louisiana and Texas, the producer said.

Bird protections include radar devices that notify Encana of the presence of birds, as well as tank covers, netting and "bird balls," which float on top of tanks to prevent waterfowl from landing.

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