Arizona Parks Join "Poo Poo Project" to Save Birds from Foul Deaths

Oct 10, 2017

Some public toilets in America’s state and national parks have open ventilation pipes that wildlife often mistake for burrows. Many die trapped in outhouse basements.  For the Arizona Science Desk, Maya Springhawk Robnett reports…

In 2010, the Teton Raptor Center, a nonprofit bird education and research organization based in Wyoming, addressed this problem by installing screens on those ventilation pipes.   The center’s David Watson said without the screens, birds like owls are drawn to the openings.

“In the wild, they’re looking for these small cavities where they can just roost for the night. They find this perfect 12-inch hole…and then they can’t spread their wings out and fly out.” –David Watson, Teton Raptor Center

“You can imagine, like in the wild, they’re looking for these small cavities where they can just roost for the night,” Watson said. “And what happens is they find this perfect 12-inch hole where they can go down that tube.  They’ve obviously kind of tucked their wings in to go down and then they can’t spread their wings out and fly out.”

The screens are custom made to keep birds out of the pipes without disrupting ventilation.  The non-profit effort, aptly named the “Poo-Poo Project” now sells the screens to parks across the country to prevent bird deaths. 

The center’s goal was to get screens in parks in all fifty states by December.  They met the goal early.  This year, four Arizona National Park sites—the Chiricahua National Monument, the Coronado National Memorial, the Fort Bowie National Historic Site, and the Grand Canyon National Park—installed the new screens.

The Poo-Poo Project implemented its 100-thousandth screen this summer.