This Montana man spends his days shooting at birds that land on a toxic lake to save them from burning inside out

Mark Mariano

Mark MarianoDaniel T. Allen/Insider

  • The Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana is so acidic it has the potential to fry birds inside out in a matter of hours.

  • Locals, similar to Mark Mariano, use quite a lot of strategies to scare them away.

  • The lake grew to become poisonous after groundwater started to seep in and created sulfuric acid.

The Berkeley pit began off as an open pit mine about 65 years in the past earlier than the water pumps have been shut off in 1982.

The Berkeley Pit is one of the largest Superfund sites in the US. It is a toxic lake a mile long, a half mile wide, and nearly 1000 feet deep filled with heavy metals and toxic water from old underground copper mine shafts in Butte, Montana.

The Berkeley Pit is among the largest superfund websites within the US.William Campbell/Corbis through Getty Pictures

Shutting off the pumps meant that groundwater started to seep in and created sulfuric acid that leached metals out of the rock.

The lake has change into so acidic that if a chicken lands there for quite a lot of hours it could possibly be cooked from the within out, Insider reported. So, some locals have gotten inventive in serving to shield the migrant birds that fly by there.





The lake — positioned in Butte, Montana— is 7,000 ft lengthy, 5,600 ft large, and 1,780 ft deep.

Berkeley Pit

The depth of The Berkeley Pit is taller than the statue of Liberty and Empire State Constructing, in line with the EPA.Berkeley Pit

The Berkeley Pit is taken into account one of many largest superfund websites within the US.

It’s a poisonous lake a little over a mile long, and 1,780 feet deep, in line with the EPA, and stuffed with heavy metals and poisonous water from previous underground copper mine shafts in Butte, Montana.




To guard the birds, Mark Mariano makes use of an costly arsenal of high-tech instruments to maintain the birds off the poisonous lake.

Mark Mariano

Mark Mariano posted close to the location.Daniel T. Allen/Insider

Mariano instructed Insider that he gave himself the title of “Waterfowl Safety Specialist.”

“We invented that title, nevertheless it suits,” he instructed Insider.

He makes use of aerial drones, a drone boar, and a handheld laser to assist maintain the birds off the water. Every device works greatest for a unique species of chicken.

Certainly one of his favourite instruments is a $5,000 Swarovski scope, which might spot the birds earlier than they even get moist.

“If we will get, maintain ’em from touchdown. That is at all times the very best,” Mariano defined.

In the course of the peak season, somebody like Mariano will go as much as the realm no less than as soon as an hour to make sure birds are protected.

A number of species of birds together with Snow geese, Avocets, and Grebes, migrate by Butte through the spring and fall.

Birds over Berkeley Pit

Birds over The Berkeley Pit.Daniel T. Allen/Insider

“I imply, I dream, sleep, eat and poop, geese” Mariano instructed Insider.

In 2016, an estimated 60,000 Snow Geese landed on the pit with about 3,000 of them dying, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Insider reported that scientists found that round 50 species of birds make their means by Butte yearly.

Earlier than resorting to taking pictures, individuals will use unnatural sounds to repel the birds from the realm.


Wailers, which Mariano says annoys the birds.Daniel T. Allen/Insider

Mariano makes use of 4 wailers, which play a random collection of alarms that may annoy the birds.

“You possibly can hear this stuff on a, you already know, good heat summer season evening all throughout Butte,” Mariano stated.

One other methodology to save lots of the birds is propane cannons.

Propane cannons

Mariano additionally makes use of propane cannons, which have a timer.Daniel T. Allen/Insider

The cannons are arrange on a timer and go off all day.

“They mimic gunfire, which numerous the birds are petrified of for apparent causes,” Mariano stated.

The final resort is fireworks.


Mariano and his co-worker unload fireworks.Daniel T. Allen/Insider

Mariano stated they’ve solely needed to resort to the fireworks twice, however general he is pleased with the work he does to maintain these birds protected.

“I get up with out an alarm each morning and I am completely satisfied to go actually rescue birds. And most days you stroll dwelling together with your head held excessive, that you just noticed these birds stand up and take off in the direction of Helena to the North or to the South within the fall,” Mariano instructed Insider.

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