Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bird deaths in mining claim markers

The American Bird Conservancy is warning that the old PVC mining claim markers are luring millions of birds to their deaths across the western U.S. and has launched efforts with federal and state agencies across the region to remove the pipes from public lands.  Arizona's state bird, the cactus wren, is identified as one of the species affected.

According to ABC, "Small birds apparently see the opening of PVC pipes used to mark mining claims as a hollow suitable for roosting or nesting or possibly gathering to pool body heat during migration. The birds may enter the holes, only to become trapped because the walls are too smooth to allow them to grapple their way up the sides and the pipes are too narrow for the birds to extend their wings and fly out. Death from dehydration or starvation follows."  [Right, PVC claim markers in Nevada.  Credit, ABC]

Surveys in Nevada and Oregon found an average of one or two dead birds per pipe stake, with highs in the low 30's.    ABC said, "A 1993 Nevada law prohibits installation of new uncapped or uncrimped pipes for marking the boundaries of mining claims in an effort to prevent injury to wildlife. However, about half of the protective caps that have been installed on markers since then have become displaced, thereby re-establishing the hazard from the pipes.   ....  a subsequent law ruled that stakes without caps or crimps would no longer be recognized as claim boundary markers."

There were 3.4 million mining claims in the 12 western states as of 2010, with a minimum of 4 stakes per claim, but there is no count of how many are PVC pipes, and of those, how many are open at the top.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:43 AM

    1993? What a timely article... Pardon my sarcasm, but haven't they had nearly 20 years to fix this problem? I bet in 1993 they also said "wow, this is a problem maybe we had better fix it", and here we are 20 years later doing it again. Anybody think we'll be in the exact same place 20 years from now (perhaps with another law in place)??