Protect Birds Near California’s Petaluma River

Exclusionary Netting

Target: Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty

Goal: To remove the bird-killing netting located under the Petaluma River Bridge.

Recently, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) placed exclusion netting along the underside of the Petaluma River Bridge. This netting is intended to be a humane means with which to repel and deter animals such as birds from passing through a specific area. Unfortunately, along the Petaluma River, this is not the case.

The netting under the Petaluma Bridge primarily targets migratory cliff swallows, which are seeking nearby nesting sites that they have occupied for countless generations. Not only have these birds historically always returned to this same area for nesting purposes, but that area itself represents the culmination of a roughly 6,000 mile annual journey. These birds, exhausted and driven by instinct, then become tangled in the netting. As they become entangled the birds often break limbs as they struggle to break free, which is virtually a death sentence. This is not the worst, however, as many are unable to extricate themselves and eventually die a slow death from starvation and exhaustion while still trapped in the net.

This puts both Caltrans and the subcontractor (C.C. Myers Inc.) in clear violation of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty, which expressly forbids the killing of any migratory birds unless an official “take” permit is granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Without such a permit Caltrans is in blatant violation, yet the agencies tasked with enforcing this law have to date only vowed to “look into it” rather than take any official action.

This is tragic and unacceptable. Caltrans must take down this netting immediately, not leave it remaining while they purportedly seek alternatives. Over 100 birds have already died as a direct result of this netting. Remove this inhumane and illegal netting from under the Petaluma Bridge now, before more animals die within it.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Dougherty,

The decision by Caltrans to place exclusion netting along the underside of the Petaluma River Bridge is misguided. While this netting may be intended as a humane means with which to repel and deter animals such as birds from passing through a specific area, here along the Petaluma River this is not the case. This netting primarily targets migratory cliff swallows that are seeking nearby nesting sites which they have occupied for countless generations.

The cliff swallows which are being harmed have historically always returned to this same area for nesting purposes as the culmination of a roughly 6000 mile annual journey. These birds, exhausted and driven by instinct, then become tangled in the netting. Upon becoming entangled these birds often break limbs struggling to break free. This is not the worst however as many are unable to extricate themselves which leads to them eventually dying a slow death from starvation and exhaustion.

The inhumane deaths of these birds serves to place both Caltrans and the subcontractor (C.C. Myers Inc.) in clear violation of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty which expressly forbids the killing of any migratory birds unless an official “take” permit is granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Without such a permit Caltrans is in blatant violation. As those tasked with enforcing the law have yet to intercede, I must urge Caltrans itself to take direct action.

What is happening at this bridge is tragic and unacceptable. Caltrans must take down this netting immediately, not leave it remaining while they purportedly seek alternatives. Over 100 birds have already died as a direct result of this netting. Remove this inhumane and illegal netting from under the Petaluma Bridge now, before more animals die because of it.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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