The American Bird Conservancy notes in a press release that a million birds may be dying each year after becoming trapped inside PVC pipes used to mark mining claims throughout the country, but mainly in the west.

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.

The problem is so severe that Nevada even passed 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.

The remains of some of the birds found in mining claim marker pipes; Nevada Department of Wildlife

The remains of some of the birds found in mining claim marker pipes; Nevada Department of Wildlife

BLM Determines Bird Deaths From PVC Mining Claim Marker Pipes Widespread
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 1 Million birds might be dying each year due to PVC mining claim markers.

  1. Pam says:

    This was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago. Never would have thought about it before and wouldn’t have known a mine claim marker if it jumped up and bit me. I spend a fair bit of time tromping around sagebrush country and cover the opening of any open-top markers I come across with big rocks. I have seen a few PVC pipe markers that have series of holes drilled in them. I can only assume this gives birds the traction needed to get out because I haven’t found any dead birds in these. Thanks for spreading the word.

  2. skyrim says:

    Thanks for covering the markers Pam. I enjoy birds much more than mining claim markers or survey stakes. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…….

  3. Nancy says:

    Unfortunately, this is not the only danger created by PVC. I wanted to put up a hoop greenhouse this spring and while reseaching PVC, found quite a few articles about the material:


April 2012


‎"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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