Reducing Preventable Wildlife Mortalities

IM 2016-023
Instruction Memorandum



WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240-0036


February 16, 2016


In Reply Refer To

3830, 6500, 9100, 9600 (230/320) P



Instruction Memorandum No. 2016-023

Expires:  09/30/2019


To:                   All Field Officials

From:               Deputy Director, Operations

Subject:           Reducing Preventable Wildlife Mortalities

Program Areas:  Fish and Wildlife Management, Solid Minerals, Cadastral Survey, Facilities Management, Range Management, Recreation Management, and Abandoned Mine Lands.

Purpose:  This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides policy to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel for reducing the likelihood of adverse impacts to wildlife (migratory birds, bats, reptiles and other wildlife) from open, uncapped hollow pipes or tube-like structures that are less than 12 inches in diameter.

Policy/Action:  To prevent wildlife mortalities in open, uncapped hollow pipes the BLM will implement the following management actions:

BLM Facilities and Other BLM-managed Structures:  This section applies to fence posts, sign posts, survey markers, outbuilding vents, and other structures with the exception of mining claim monuments or oil and gas production facility vents.

  1. The BLM will:
    1. Identify open-top vertical pipes, including temporary pipes that are less than 12 inches in diameter (inner diameter) during normal inspections of facilities.  If possible, and in a reasonable amount of time and within budget limitations, the BLM will replace open-pipes with wildlife-safe structures; if it is not possible to replace the open-pipe, the BLM will cap, close, remove, or screen the open-pipe.
    2. Install screens to cap sapling protector tubes, or install openings at the bottom, for birds and wildlife to escape.
    3. Ensure that designs for new construction and/or the modification of facilities do not include open-top vertical pipes that are less than 12 inches in diameter.
    4. Ensure that a permanent cap or screen is secured at the terminus for any new construction of sign posts, fences, survey markers, vents, and other pipes that are less than 12 inches in diameter.

Mining Claim Monuments:  The BLM encourages voluntary action by mining claimants to prevent wildlife mortalities in open, uncapped hollow pipes.  The BLM also encourages the use of wildlife safe monuments for new mining claim markers.  Please refer to Attachment 1 for background information on mining claim monuments.

  1. The BLM will encourage mining claimants to voluntarily:
    1. Use monuments that are wildlife-safe and made from naturally occurring materials when locating new mining claims.  Attachment 2 (BLM Pamphlet P-470) depicts examples of wildlife-safe monuments.
    2. Replace existing open-pipe polyvinyl chloride (PVC) monuments with wildlife-safe monuments on their active mining claims.  Replacement is the preferred method of remediating these open-pipe markers.  Capping or filling existing open-pipe monuments is not a permanent solution, but should be encouraged when replacement is not possible.
    3. Remove any open-pipe monuments within the boundaries of their claims that belong to claims that are identified as “closed” in the BLM’s records.
  2. When possible, BLM Field Offices may:
    1. Partner with third parties, such as conservation groups, mining companies, volunteer groups, local geological societies, industry groups, local and State governments, scouting organizations, and other Federal agencies to remove open-pipe PVC monuments in accordance with State law.  Nevada is the only State that allows removal of open-pipe claim markers by any party, regardless of claim status (NRS § 517.030).  In all other States, BLM employees may only remove or alter open-pipe claim monuments if those claims are recorded as “closed” in the BLM’s records.  State laws govern location procedures; nothing in this policy implies that the BLM will issue forfeiture or voidance decisions for mining claims that contain open pipe monuments.  Please refer to Attachment 3 for a summary of relevant State laws regarding mining claim monumentation.
    2. Make BLM Pamphlet P-470 entitled, “Request to Mining Claimants on Federal Land – Help Eliminate Hazards to Birds and Other Wildlife” (Attachment 2) available within their public rooms.  The pamphlet should be distributed at any appropriate meeting where mining claimants may be present and with written communications to claimants such as fee reminders or forfeiture decisions closing claims.

Timeframe:  Effective immediately.

Budget Impact:  For BLM facilities and other BLM-managed structures, there are costs associated with purchasing, installing, and producing the materials described by this policy.  Costs will vary depending on the facility and the number of items requiring modifications or removal.  The costs would be incurred by either the BLM or BLM-permitted parties.

For mining claim monuments, Mining Law Administration funds (L19900000) may only be used to implement the above policy if doing so will not jeopardize meeting Annual Work Plan directives and yearly planning targets determined by the budget process.  Field offices are encouraged to contact their State Office Mining Law Administration program lead to determine if impacts may occur.

Background:  Exposed vertical pipes with open tops that are less than 12 inches in diameter may pose a hazard to birds and other wildlife.  They are particularly hazardous for birds that either fall into these openings or enter looking for nesting space or cover.

Through existing policy, the BLM must take steps to conserve designated sensitive wildlife sensitive species and those species listed or proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (BLM Manual Section 6840).  The objectives outlined in the manual are to: a) conserve and/or recover ESA-listed species and the ecosystems on which they depend so that ESA protections are no longer needed for these species; and, b) initiate proactive conservation measures that reduce or eliminate threats to BLM sensitive species to minimize the likelihood of and need for listing these species under the ESA.

Executive Order 13186, Federal Responsibilities to Protect Migratory Birds, directs Federal agencies to protect migratory birds when taking actions that have, or are likely to have, a measurable negative effect on migratory bird populations.  The BLM is instituting this policy to reduce adverse impacts from open pipes or open tube-like structures that can be hazardous to migratory birds and wildlife in general, consistent with applicable law.

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  For long-term implementation, manual guidance for facilities (recreation and others) will be modified where appropriate.

Coordination:  Development of this policy was coordinated with the Rangeland Management Program (WO-220), Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation (WO-230), Division of Recreation Management (WO-250), Abandoned Mine Lands Program (WO-280), Division of Solid Minerals (WO-320), the Asset Management Branch (WO-854), and the Solicitor’s Office. 

Contact:  If you have any questions or comments regarding this IM, please contact Geoff Walsh, Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation (WO-230) at 202-912-7271 or, or Adam Merrill, Division of Solid Minerals (WO-320) at 202-912-7044 or



Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:      

Steven A. Ellis                                                            Robert M. Williams

Deputy Director, Operations                                      Division of IRM Governance,WO-580



3 Attachments

  1. Background Information on Mining Claim Monuments (1 p)
  2. BLM Pamphlet P-470 entitled, “Request to Mining Claimants on Federal Land – Help Eliminate Hazards to Birds and Other Wildlife” (2 pp)
  3. Summary of Relevant State Laws Regarding Mining Claim Monumentation (7 pp)

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