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Minnesota Vikings stadium could kill thousands of birds

The Minnesota Vikings may kill more than the competition in their new stadium.
The Minnesota Vikings may kill more than the competition in their new stadium.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

There's a lot of buzz about the new Minnesota Vikings stadium being built in downtown Minneapolis and slated to open for the 2016 NFL season, but not all of it is good. Environmental advocates, bird conservationists, nature lovers and birding groups are stunned by the decision to not use bird-friendly glass for the stadium, a move that could kill thousands of migratory birds annually.

The stadium's design includes approximately 200,000 square feet of exposed glass (the equivalent of four football fields), and the facility is positioned less than a mile from the Mississippi River – a critical flyway for migratory birds in spring and fall, as well as habitat for resident birds. While stadium officials have expressed a desire to work with local Audubon groups to participate in a sensitive lighting scheme and migratory Lights Out programs to protect birds, the decision not to use glass with a simple dot pattern, one that would be unobtrusive and relatively unnoticeable to humans but would make the glass much more visible to birds' keener vision, could sentence many birds to death.

The current budget for the stadium is in excess of $975 million, but it was deemed too expensive to use bird-safe glass – which would have added just $1.1 million to the budget, or less than two-tenths of one percent. Instead, $1.3 million was added to cover another 2,000 high definition televisions to the facility, among other features. State guidelines do require bond-funded buildings to take steps to protect birds, but because the stadium's planning began before those guidelines went into effect, it is unclear whether rejecting bird-friendly glass would be a violation.

Not only would the bird-safe glass help protect migratory birds, but it is more energy efficient and is produced in Minnesota.

The National Audubon Society is encouraging letters to the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to urge the use of bird-friendly glass; letters can be emailed easily, and personalization will make the message even stronger and more effective. More than 49,000 letters have already been sent, and the goal is 65,000. Send your letter today!

Backyard birders may not have 200,000 square feet of glass threatening their avian visitors, but there are ways to protect birds from backyard window collisions as well!

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