Over my years of traipsing around public lands in the West I have come across hundreds of uncapped 3-foot tall PVC pipes sticking out of the ground. For a long time I didn’t know the purpose of the pipes but later came to understand that they were used as markers for mining claims. I’ve peered into a few to find dead birds and other animals as well.

The American Bird Conservancy has released a report about the surveying they have done of these pipes in Nevada, a state with more than a million mining claims, which found that out of 854 pipes surveyed there were 879 birds (as well as 113 reptiles and 20 mammals).

The issue prompted Nevada to pass a law in 2009 which invalidates all mining claims marked with uncapped or uncrimped pipes and allows citizens to pull them and lay them on the ground nearby.

Having uncapped pipes of this nature is a violation of the Migratoy Bird Treaty Act.

Millions of Bird Deaths in Nevada
American Bird Conservancy

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

4 Responses to Millions of Bird Deaths in Nevada

  1. So it appears that in Nevada, an individual or a group could undertake a conservation project to take down mining claim pipes that are open on the top (probably a majority).

  2. aves says:

    It’s absolutely horrifying to see these results and then extrapolate the likely mortality across the rest of the Western states. But it’s good to see Nevada recognize the issue and react in a positive way. Hopefully enough residents or visitors there will heed the call and that awareness will spread elsewhere.

    I really appreciate the wide variety of wildlife issues this blog covers. It’s not easy to keep track of all the issues and this site is an invaluable resource for those of us trying to keep up.

  3. Alan Gregory says:

    I recall seeing such pipes on BLM land near Gooding while I lived and worked there (pre-Air Force) in 1975. I’m not surprised at all to learn of the ongoing toll. Just as bad as is the road-kill toll here in the Northeast. While living in Pa. for two decades, I kept a log book in which I noted the avian species, date of find, etc. I stopped after reaching 67 species. And that’s just birds, not terrestrial wildlife.

  4. I first time read this bird killing article that is all about millions of birds that is too in the Nevada. Also, this report is amazing and tell a deep horror history. Thanks for this post.


November 2011


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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