Many contaminated ponds-byproducts of a variety of industrial process-can pose a deadly threat to endangered birds and migratory waterfowl.
Birds view these ponds as attractive resting or feeding sites. If allowed to land, the birds may quickly become poisoned by ingesting chemicals present in the ponds. Low pH of the ponds often strips waterproofing oils from feathers, which can lead to death from exposure. Unable to regain flight and escape, these birds are usually doomed.
Bird mortality on toxic industrial impoundment and evaporating ponds creates liability exposure under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which protects all native birds in North America. Penalties are high. Officers of companies found in violation of these acts may face prison sentences, and fines of up to $2,000 per bird mortality ($10,000 for endangered species) may be levied.
Four solutions now exist for this problem:
Changing the industrial process.
This is often the best environmental solution, but the costs of such conversions are usually prohibitive.
Using netting to exclude access.
This can be partially effective on small ponds (less than 15 acres in size), but is impractical for a large impoundment. Netting also hinders evaporation, and has high installation and maintenance costs.
The Use of hazing devices.
This offers a third alternative. Hazing is designed to frighten birds away before they land on the pond, or cause them to leave soon after landing. Hazing has historically suffered from two major drawbacks.
- Birds rapidly habituate to the hazing devices, rendering them ineffective over time.
- Maintenace of mechanical hazing systems has typically proven costly and labor intensive. As a result, malfunctioning hazing devices often remain unrepaired and nonfunctional.
The Birdavert System