Football stadium a "death trap" for birds, conservation group warns

A conservation group is warning that unless a planned sports stadium is redesigned to meet bird-safety specifications, its glass will pose a big threat to migrating flocks.

The new Vikings stadium under construction in Minneapolis could be a so-called "death trap" for migrating birds, according to the local Audubon Society. Almost a billion birds die each year from flying into buildings nationwide, the group told CBS Minnesota.

Joanna Eckles of Audubon Minnesota told the station that reflective surfaces are seen as real habitats -- trees, clouds and bushes -- by birds. Thinking they see their perfect landing spot or wide open sky, they unknowingly fly into the glass.

The Audubon Society has documented nearly 125 species of birds as victims. The group says deaths could be prevented with "fritted" glass, a type of glass that's lined with dots to make it easily visible to the birds.

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This image released by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Minnesota Vikings shows a rendering of the new Vikings stadium.

AP Photo/HKS

"We're talking about a billion-dollar stadium here, and the cost to save perhaps thousands of migratory birds -- and make the Vikings a global leader in green stadium design -- is about one-tenth of one percent of that," Matthew Anderson, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter, told CBS Minnesota. "We know the people of Minnesota do not want their money killing birds."

But redesigning the stadium with fritted glass is just not feasible, according to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is responsible for the construction of the stadium. "We were unable to change the design and do not have the budget to include the $1.1 million needed for bird safe glass," the agency said in a press release.

Officials say they have been working with the Audubon Society to make other changes to protect birds. The Authority has changed its operations schedule to make sure that the lights at the stadium were turned off after midnight, and will take into account the Society's other suggestions for a bird-safe lighting system.

Minneapolis was chosen to host the 2018 Super Bowl, and the new stadium will hold up to 72,000 spectators.

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