JACKSON HOLE, Wyo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After successfully covering more than 7,700 exposed pipes west of the Mississippi, Teton Raptor Center’s Poo-Poo Project has set its sights on the eastern half of the U.S. – and it’s looking for some help this holiday season.
The Poo-Project, a nationally award-winning conservation program, has saved countless owls, kestrels and other cavity nesting birds from becoming fatally entrapped in ventilation pipes of vault toilets. Now TRC is hunting for partners to help bring its simple, life-saving solution to public lands in the East and to begin making progress toward its goal of covering pipes on the estimated 50,000 outdoor toilets across the country. Individuals can sponsor a Poo-Poo screen for just $35, making it an ideal gift for that special someone who has everything.
The Poo-Poo Project got its start in an unlikely and unappealing spot -- the collection pit of a permanently installed, non-flushing toilet. In 2010, a visitor to Boise National Forest was shocked to see two yellow eyes staring up at her from the waste pit. A small owl had become trapped there after flying down the toilet’s ventilation pipe. News of this owl’s predicament quickly spread throughout the conservation community, reaching the staff at the Teton Raptor Center -- and an effort to prevent other birds from suffering the same fate was born.
Since 2013, TRC’s Poo-Poo Project has distributed 7,888 Poo-Poo Screens through 215 partners in 30 states. It’s a simple, low-cost solution – each screen costs approximately $30 and takes minutes to install – that doesn’t interfere with pipe ventilation, but does prevent birds from dying in a truly awful environment.
“It’s rare to find a straightforward fix in the world of wildlife conservation, but the Poo-Poo Project is a perfect example of it,” said Amy McCarthy, executive director of the Teton Raptor Center. “The same low-cost screen that covers a pipe in Denali National Park also works on a vault toilet in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once we worked out a solution to save birds in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem we knew we had to take the Poo-Poo Project to all 50 states.”
TRC has been on a roll in 2016, adding 2,036 screens through 85 partners in 14 new states, and is now 60 percent to its 50-state goal. In October alone, TRC received requests for more than 115 screens that will be placed from Alaska to New Hampshire. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will install screens in various Fairbanks-area campgrounds while the Appalachian Mountain Club has requested Poo-Poo screens for its hut system, which is the oldest in the U.S.
What draws birds to these pipes? Some owls and other birds nest in dark cavities such as hollow trees and rock niches. Chimneys, ventilation pipes and other types of man-made cavities also fit the bill nicely -- until the birds become trapped. While the ventilation pipes on vault toilets are the main focus of the Poo-Poo Project, TRC also stresses the need for property owners to cover open cavities around their homes.
TRC is a non-profit organization of conservation biologists, educators, veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators and volunteers, working together to help birds of prey and promote environmental health through veterinary care and rehabilitation, educational programs and conservation research. To learn more about the Poo-Poo Project or to sponsor a Poo-Poo screen, visit tetonraptorcenter.org.