Raptors, Mylar Tape, and Boats to Protect Wildlife in Oroville

A few weeks ago, several OWCN staff spent a few days in sweltering heat in Oroville, CA to assist with an interesting project. This project came about because of an accident at the Oroville Dam in 2009 and resulted in the entrapment of hydraulic oil behind one of the valves. Because of the severe draught that California is experiencing, the Dept. of Water Resources had to open this valve, but were proactive in helping to protect wildlife from oiling by having several people from the OWCN be on site when they opened the valve. So earlier this month, Tim, Stephanie, and I spent four days in and around the water just below the Oroville Dam to help keep wildlife from potentially getting oiled by hazing animals away from the area of immediate impact. We used a combination of several hazing techniques, including hazing from the boat, using stakes with mylar tape set along the shoreline, a realistic-looking owl with a swiveling head that fooled more than one person, and the occasional and very technical “get outta here!” yells. Our scaring tactics were successful in keeping several species away, including a persistent osprey, a family of river otters, and many mergansers. Multiple cleanup crews from NRC were also present during the project, which helped deter animals from landing in the impacted area. In addition, several DFW-OSPR personnel were on site to help oversee the placement of the boom to protect resources. Overall, the project was a great success, and no animals were oiled. We congratulate the Dept. of Water Resources, CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife – OSPR, and the groups subcontracted (such as NRC and Syblon Reid), for a job well done!



Nancy taking down the owl


Tim, Stephanie, and Nancy looking for wildlife and hazing animals from the boat on a beautiful morning


Mylar tape and booms


Kyra’s land station from where she kept an eye out for animals swimming through or landing in the water


Various project vehicles and materials and the OWCN’s “MASH” (Mobile Avian Stabilization Hospital), ready for action


We were hoping the birds would be scared away by our “hawk”


NRC worker cleaning the  OWCN boat, the "Screaming Grebe"

NRC worker cleaning the OWCN boat, the “Screaming Grebe”

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