Last fall 99.7% of all birds that landed in the Berkeley Pit in Butte were successfully hazed off the pit thanks to the efforts of Gary Swant and his fellow board members of the Berkeley Pit Waterfowl Mitigation Advisory Board. This board is tasked with finding solutions to the waterfowl and white goose migration issues at the pit.
At our October chapter meeting, Swant will be sharing the methods used to achieve this high rate of success in both preventing birds from landing in the pit and preventing mortality in birds that do land. In 2018, Swant along with his co-researcher Professor Stella Capoccia of Montana Tech’s Biology Department received the 2018 Wildlife Conservation Award from the Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society for their work in reducing bird mortality at the Berkeley Pit.
Swant received his Bachelor’s in Education with an emphasis in Biological Sciences and his Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Environmental Education from the University of Montana. Swant taught biology and field ecology at Powell County High School in Deer Lodge for 25 years and retired in 1993. During his teaching career he authored and co-authored several curriculums that were used in Montana schools. The National Park Service contracted with Swant to produce field guides on birds, flowers, and animals of the Grant-Kohrs Historic Site. In edition he belonged to and held offices in the Montana Environmental Education Association, Energy and Man’s Environment Corporation, and the Montana Energy Education Council. While teaching he received the Montana “Outstanding Biology Teacher” of the Year, Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, and the Montana Environmental Educator of the Year Awards.
In 2005, Swant founded GoBirdMontana, LLC, which continues today, and conducts field ornithological research for private corporations, state, and federal agencies. In 2016, Montana Audubon recognized Swant’s work by presenting him the 2016 Citizen Scientist Award. Swant writes birding articles for three newspapers in Montana and received first place in outdoor writing for small newspapers in 2018. He also holds the record for the most birds seen in a single year in Montana, a record which he set in 2007. He is also in first place on eBird for total number of birds seen in Montana. When Swant is not birding professionally, he enjoys traveling with his wife, Laura Lee, to increase his birding life list. In this endeavor they have travelled to 25 countries.
Come join us to hear about Gary Swant’s vital work at the Berkeley Pit at 7:00 PM Monday, October 8, 2018 in Room 123 of the Gallagher Business Building on the UM campus.