In the fall of 2016 when roughly 60,000 Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese landed in the Berkeley Pit in Butte; approximately 3,000 geese died despite round-the-clock hazing efforts that continued for days. Other than that event, most of the observed avian activity on the pit averages below 100 birds per day, over 99% of which continue to be successfully hazed off the water. This stark difference draws questions: why were the numbers in 2016 so high, and what could be done to improve practices in the future? How might climate change and biodiversity factor into decision making for protection efforts? This research reports on an on-going investigation to answer these and other questions. Collectively, it provides a biological overview of the Berkeley Pit, the role it plays for waterfowl specifically during migration, and how this knowledge can be used to minimize the future use of and loss of waterfowl likely to land on Pit water.
Our speaker, Stella Capoccia, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at Montana Tech. Dr. Capoccia’s main research interests focus on human dimensions of wildlife management and the human-animal relationship. Her current research, in collaboration with Gary Swant, Naturalist, looks at trends in waterfowl migration and helping to develop an up-dated mitigation plan for the Berkeley Pit. Dr. Capoccia received her Ph.D. in Geography from Rutgers University studying the political ecology of wildlife conservation in east Africa. Her Master’s Degree is in Environmental Policy from Clark University, where she studied urban wildlife policy. Dr. Capoccia has multiple publications and presentations that address urban ecology of the pigeon as well as the on-going research on waterfowl migration at the Berkeley Pit.
*Note – Please help us to keep our members and friends safe. Masks will be required, and seating will be in small groups of 2-4 chairs to provide some distancing. Seating will be limited. Please plan to arrive early to assure a seat.