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Study: U.S. Bank Stadium Contributes to High Number of Bird Fatalities

U.S. Bank Stadium exterior

U.S. Bank Stadium is among downtown Minneapolis structures contributing to a high proportion of bird fatalities in the area, according to a study commissioned by the Minnesota Vikings and the facility’s owner.

A controversial element of U.S. Bank Stadium’s design is its glass walls, which have been criticized by conservationists as being dangerous to birds. The stadium sits in close proximity to the Mississippi River’s migratory pathway, and concerns have been raised that the reflective glass–combined with lighting and nearby vegetation–leads birds to believe that they are flying into a habitat, causing them to collide with the stadium’s exterior wall. This issue has prompted some activists to push for a retrofit to U.S. Bank Stadium’s design, and the Vikings and facility owner Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) paid for a $300,000 study on the issue.

Published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One, the report found that the stadium and three unnamed buildings in downtown Minneapolis were a factor in 74 percent of bird collisions and 68 percent of fatalities among the structures surveyed. The report specifically focused beyond the stadium by surveying a total of 21 structures in downtown Minneapolis, conducting the study over a span of four migration periods that concluded with the fall of 2018. It estimated that 111 fatalities occur at the stadium annually, with the range at all four buildings falling between 79 and 216. (How are birds killed? The #1 cause is domesticated cats, followed by glass collisions. Researchers say between 365 million and 1 billion birds are killed annually after glass collisions.)

As far as U.S. Bank Stadium is concerned, the report suggested that the problem could be alleviated by making changes to the most problematic sections of glass. The Vikings and MSFA indicated in a statement that they will consider potential changes to the glass. More from the Star Tribune:

The Vikings and MSFA issued a joint statement saying they’re “committed to further evaluating” recommendations to mitigate bird deaths. They stopped short of committing to film or etchings on the glass that would deter birds, though they pledged to consider use of the National Audubon Society’s “lights out” guidelines, especially during migratory seasons and seasonal weather.

U.S. Bank Stadium has been home to the Vikings since it was completed in 2016.

Image courtesy U.S. Bank Stadium.

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August Publications