Montana snow geese deaths by the thousands are expected because birds now migrating south for winter keep landing in an abandoned mine pit full of toxic water.
Since 1995 state officials have been using loud noises to try to scare birds away from the contaminated Berkeley Pit when 342 birds died there, reported the Missoulian. They said they won't know the death toll for this year until later this week.
The geese die after drinking water from the pit, which is high in sulfuric acid, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, iron, and zinc. Dead geese have been found to have high levels of heavy metals in their kidneys.
Some estimates are putting the dead geese count in the thousands, according to the Washington Post.
Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for mining company Montana Resources, told The Associated Press that 90 percent of the birds were chased away from the pit early Nov. 29, preventing a higher death toll.
Montana Resources is responsible for the pit, a federal Superfund site, along with the Atlantic Richfield Co., said the AP. The Environmental Protection Agency says the Superfund program is responsible for cleaning up contaminated land and responding to environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters.
From 1952 to 1982, some 300 million tons of copper ore were removed from the mine, said the Post. The resulting pit, about 900 feet deep, was eventually filled with floodwater.
Freezeout Lake, a regular migration location for the geese, was mostly frozen when the geese passed over it this year, leaving the waterfowl to the Berkeley Pitt, said an earlier report from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
An estimated 10,000 snow geese landed at the pit the night of Nov. 28, said the Missoulian.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.