Snow Geese Update

News & Updates on the Berkeley Pit


Matt Vincent looks through one of several high powered scopes located within the Bird Mitigation Station at Montana Resources.

• It is estimated that many thousands of migrating snow geese stopped in the Berkeley Pit the week of November 28, 2016. The number of migrating geese that passed through this area and landed in the Berkeley Pit is unprecedented. Most geese left the pit on Tuesday November 29, 2016 and continued their migration south.
• Unfortunately, some geese remained in the pit for nearly a week or longer, and it is estimated that several thousand of those snow geese perished in the Berkeley Pit.
• Montana Resources (MR) and Atlantic Richfield Company (AR) operate a program under the direction of US EPA and the State of Montana to deter waterfowl from landing in the pit, and to encourage any waterfowl in the pit to leave as soon as possible after resting. Over the course of the last two decades, the average number of birds observed on the Berkeley Pit over an entire year is approximately 4,000 or less, and almost all of those birds leave the pit after a short rest.
• On November 28, 2016, many more birds landed in the pit in one day than are normally seen over an entire year. MR and AR personnel attempted to convince the waterfowl to stay away from or leave the pit, using bird wailers, fireworks, and other conventional methods along with the addition of new technologies including drones. Staff diligence and dedication working day and night saved thousands of birds.
• MR and AR are coordinating with federal and state agencies, as well as waterfowl experts, to understand this unprecedented arrival of waterfowl in the Butte and why the waterfowl selected the Berkeley Pit for resting.
• MR and AR will work closely with federal and state regulators, and waterfowl experts to identify and evaluate potential new methods to strengthen and improve the waterfowl mitigation program. These may include such items as additional on-the-water and aerial remote control drone technologies, laser technology remote controlled water craft, and sonic devices.
• There is a program to provide veterinary care and assistance to sick geese. If members of the public in the Butte or Dillon areas spot a sick or dead goose, they are asked to please contact Montana Resources at 496-3233 or Butte-Silver Bow Animal Control at 406-497-6527.
• Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is advising hunters to wait to consume snow geese harvested after November 28 in the Butte and Dillon area. Instead, FWP recommends that hunters process and freeze birds at this time and do not eat them until the department has conducted tests to determine how or if this event has affected the edible portions of the birds.