Investigation of Migratory Bird Mortality in Arkansas Oil Pits

In south Arkansas, the use of open oil pits by the oil industry and the oil, which has escaped into the secondary containment areas, is having a detrimental impact on migratory waterfowl, game species, non-game species, and the surrounding environment. The use of aerial surveillance to visually locate these sites and recording of the sites with a GPS has proven the most effective method for location of problem areas. The formation of a partnership of 5 agencies provided the manpower for the land-based investigative teams and a letter gave the oil producers the knowledge of the investigation and problems thought to exist. The retrieval of migratory birds and game and non-game species during the on site investigative visits gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the evidence necessary to pursue criminal charges against offending oil producers. The investigation into oil pits and associated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean water violations will be a long-term investigation which will make oil producers aware of the environmental problems associated with this practice. The recent increase in oil prices combined with this investigation should encourage oil producers to close open oil pits which are under their control.

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