Dawn Eischen 804-524-6179
Aug. 14, 2008
VDOT STARTLING STARLINGS ON THE BENJAMIN HARRISON BRIDGE
Humane bird management technique to reduce droppings
USDA officials trained bridge tenders to use a device that launches a pyrotechnic (noise maker) about 75 feet into the air. “Our goal is to scare the birds enough that they will choose another location,” said District Environmental Manager Nick Froelich. “We don’t anticipate any birds will be directly harmed by this technique.” VDOT and the USDA Wildlife Services will evaluate the success of the technique after two weeks of use.
The noise maker is used at dusk, when the birds would normally gather on the bridge. Bridge tenders will launch the device when traffic is light. VDOT does not expect this activity to impact bridge or river traffic.
From Feb. 1 through July 16 each year, the Benjamin Harrison Bridge is a popular nesting destination for Peregrine falcons. Bridge tenders will be restricted from using the noise maker during this time. "Although Peregrine falcons are a natural predator for starlings, the bridge's resident falcons are overwhelmed," said Froelich. "We're hoping this noise maker will make the bridge less attractive to the starlings and allow the Peregrine falcons to thrive."
VDOT began a $9.1 million bridge renovation project late last year to repaint the 41-year-old Benjamin Harrison Bridge. Due to the construction, traffic is restricted to one lane over the bridge with temporary signals providing traffic control. Project completion is expected by Oct. 2009. The bridge connects Prince George County to Charles City County and carries more than 4,000 vehicles over the James River per day.
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