san francisco chronicle

Shooing Birds From Bay Bridge Could Cost $30M: Report

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Efforts to relocate protected birds so the old eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge can be torn down could cost the state more than $30 million, a newspaper said Monday.

Transportation officials are trying to move hundreds of double-crested cormorants and other birds that nest in the 10,000-foot-long steel structure, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The California Department of Transportation wants to adhere to restrictive requirements of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the California Fish and Game code, spokeswoman Leah Robinson-Leach said.

"There are penalties if we don't," Robinson-Leach said.

Officials have spent $709,000 to build nesting "condos'' to lure the birds to the underside of a new eastern span, the newspaper reported. Another $1 million was spent trying to lure them with bird decoys, cormorant recordings and nests made from discarded Christmas wreaths.

Officials also have installed nets over the old eastern span to keep birds away.

But the birds haven't moved and more are arriving to roost. Consultants found 533 cormorant nests on the old bridge this year, double the number found three years ago, according to the Chronicle.

Transportation officials estimate the agencies could need an additional $17.1 million to deal with the bird problem, according to the Chronicle. And it could cost another $12.5 million to speed up demolition ahead of next spring's nesting season because the work must stop once the birds start laying eggs.

The roosting cormorants are just one of the problems facing transportation officials over the new Bay Bridge span. Last week, officials said they are investigating whether steel rods on the new span have been damaged by exposure to water.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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