Test of a bird deterrent device at a tailings pond, Athabasca oil sands, 1974

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  • Between 26 August and 30 October 1974, a reflector device was tested as a deterrent to birds at a small tailings pond (Lower Camp Tailings Pond) located on Syncrude's lease 17, approximately 40 km (25 mi) north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. This tailings pond provided a situation analogous (though on a smaller scale) to that expected to occur at the Mildred Lake Tailings Pond that will be constructed on lease 17. The discovery of two bitumen-covered ducks and the remains of approximately 25 other birds along the shore of the small tailings pond on 6 August 1974, indicated that birds had died at this pond. Accordingly, the results of this study also provided information on the extent to which this tailings pond was hazardous to water-associated birds. The results of this study indicated that the reflector device did not sufficiently deter shorebirds and passerines from landing along the shoreline of this pond. Few ducks and no geese were observed to land at this pond; consequently, it was not possible to determine the effectiveness of reflectors as a deterrent to these birds. Analysis of the data did indicate that such birds might be deterred by reflectors. Because few ducks or coots and no geese landed at the small tailings pond, the hazard of this pond was considered small to such birds. Evidence did indicate, however, that the risk of contacting bitumen was great for any such birds that did land on the tailings pond. Shorebirds readily landed on the shore of this pond and were observed to pick up bitumen on their feet and legs. The hazard to these birds was considered small – although some shorebirds are known to have died at this pond. The hazard of this pond to passerines was also considered small.

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    Conditions of Use Dyke, G.R., D.A. Birdsall and P.L. Sharp, 1976. Test of a bird deterrent device at a tailings pond, Athabasca oil sands, 1974. Syncrude Canada Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta. Professional Paper 1976-1. 50 pp. Permission for non-commercial use, publication or presentation of excerpts or figures is granted, provided appropriate attribution (as above) is cited. Commercial reproduction, in whole or in part, is not permitted without prior written consent. The use of these materials by the end user is done without any affiliation with or endorsement by Syncrude Canada Ltd. Reliance upon the end user's use of these materials is at the sole risk of the end user.