Migrating birds may find new home in Louisianaby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Federal officials and non profits are creating thousands of acres of wetlands so birds migrating from Minnesota and other Midwestern states will have an alternative to regions effected by the Gulf coast oil spill.
The project spans eight states and aims to create about 150,000 acres of wetland. Tom Moorman is with Ducks Unlimited, a national non profit working in Louisiana as part of the project.
Moorman said his group is paying rice farmers to flood their fields. He said they hope to create 20,000 acres of wetlands, which could be crucial for the bird's survival.
"If we avoid major tropical weather systems and keep basically the damage to where it is now, I would characterize that as dodging a major bullet," Moorman said. "Even though it's bad now, it could get a lot worse with the wrong weather systems, so 20,000 acres could be a valuable step."
Moorman said if birds see another watery area first, they'll be drawn to the spot. He said the project is being partially financed from a fund made up of BP's sale of recovered oil from the spill.
"We have a lot of loons that were hatched in Minnesota that spend the summer down here -- they'll be 1- to 2-year-old immaturings," he said. "They're at high risk of encountering oil and getting oiled..
Minnesota wildlife officials said of all the state's migrating birds, loons are the most at risk from the oil spill. They start traveling south in late fall.