Creating wetlands to divert migrating birds from oil spill


The federal government and conservation groups are busy creating avian rest stops on the north-south fly way this summer in the hopes of diverting migrating birds from the oil-contaminated areas along the Gulf Coast. 

Millions of birds will travel through the Gulf Coast en route to the Caribbean and South America in the next six months. In an unprecedented effort, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investing $20 million to pay landowners to flood thousands of acres in Louisiana, east Texas and Mississippi and cultivate additional tons of rice and grains, to attract migratory birds who might otherwise end up in polluted waters.

The wildlife service reports one refuge project, on Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, will involve planting 120 acres of impoundments in rice for migrating ducks and waterfowl and flooding a third impoundment for shorebirds.

"We've got to try to do something," said Bob Strader, who is refuge manager at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, along the Mississippi River. "This is a pretty good effort. It may keep a few birds from going to the coast and getting in the oil, especially if there are a lot of people moving around there. If there’s a disturbance issue, they may come back north. Or hopefully the shorebirds will be so fat and happy that they’ll keep going to South America and won’t have to stop on the southeast Louisiana coast at all."

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