Several thousand snow geese have died after a snowstorm forced large flocks to take refuge in the acidic, metal-laden waters of an old open pit mine in Montana. Witnesses described the pit as like “700 acres of white birds” on 28 November.
Workers received some advance notice about the incoming flock from an off-duty Montana Resources employee about 25 miles away, who called to report there were about 25,000 geese in the air in Anaconda, Thompson said.
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“I can’t underscore enough how many birds were in the Butte area that night,” Thompson said. “Numbers beyond anything we’ve ever experienced in our 21 years of monitoring by several orders of magnitude.”
The employees worked hard to save the birds, he said.
The estimated death toll is based on drone and aircraft flights over the pit, which holds about 45bn gallons (175bn litres) of water.
Thompson said federal and state agencies were still confirming the number of dead geese.
The companies would investigate to try and determine what circumstances led to “this kind of perfect storm”, with thousands of birds making a late migration and then facing a snowstorm at a time that Berkeley Pit had the only open water in the area.
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