MTPR

Berkeley Pit Waterfowl Mitigation Plan

Mark Mariano does daily waterfowl observations rounds at the Berkeley Pit during migration season. October 2018.
Nora Saks / MTPR

With the fall bird migration now in full swing, the companies in charge of Butte’s Berkeley Pit are using their new and improved scientific bird-hazing program to keep birds away. This week, their program got put to the test.

Two years ago this November, Butte made national headlines when several thousand late-migrating snow geese landed on the Berkeley Pit, exhausted and died. The huge numbers overwhelmed the companies jointly in charge of managing the former open pit copper mine and their usual methods of hazing birds off the massive toxic lake it now contains. 

Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for Montana Resources, standing above the Berkeley Pit.
Corin Cates-Carney

When 10,000 snow geese stopped to rest in Butte, in late November, the birds didn’t know they were landing in a toxic pit filled with acidic wastewater.

Hawk calls, intended to to scare away other birds, blare from speakers surrounding the pit.