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Berkeley Pit bird management has been 99% effective

Posted at 4:54 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 21:10:43-05

BUTTE — It’s been an unusually warm winter that has caused the appearance of waterfowl over the Berkeley Pit to dip a little below average.

Montana Resources Vice president of environmental affairs Mark Thompson said they're waiting on more birds that are unusually staying up north this time in winter

"There are still quite a large number of Canada geese and mallard ducks still to the north of us in the Missouri drainage and its tributaries so we’re keeping a close eye on those if a cold front were to move in that may tend to push them south, we’re keeping a good eye on that," Thompson said.

The management of the Berkeley Pit is comprised of propane cannons, a phoenix wailer that emits loud noises, hourly observation of the pit, drones, and fireworks.

But Thompson credits the success of waterfowl management not to the equipment, but to the network of people that help keep a close eye on the migration movements.

"What really and truly our front line and probably one of the most valuable tools we have is our waterfowl advisory group which is composed of a lot of local experts, US fish and wildlife service, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Montana Tech, University of Montana, Audubon society, people that have really helped us understand the task we have in front of us," Thompson said.

Thompson said that together with their great network of waterfowl advisers and equipment, they’ve seen a change.

"Based on the observed birds and the observed mortality, it’s 99.9 percent effective," Thompson said.

RELATED: Drones, remote-controlled boat used to scare birds out of Berkeley Pit