Poo-Poo Project Timeline:

  • 2016 Summary: 2,261 Screens distributed, 16 new Poo-Poo States, 109 orders .... over 8,100 screens sold in 31 states since 2013.
  • Fall 2016: Poo-Poo Project was was accepted as poster presentation at Wyoming Chapter of THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY's Annual Conference in Cody, Wyoming
  • Spring 2016: Congaree National park becomes the first Poo-Poo Project East of the Mississippi
  • Summer 2016: Sponsor-a-Screen Program is created and distributes 237 Sponsored Screens by the end of the year. Wyoming Wildlife Foundation grants $5,000 to create awareness and support the Poo-Poo Project throughout the great state of Wyoming.
  • Winter/Spring 2016: Teton Raptor Center conducts a nationwide Poo-Poo awareness campaign
  • Summer 2015: 5,000th Poo-Poo Screen Sold
  • Fall 2013: The Greater Yellowstone Coordination Committee funded a proposal to screen approximately 350 toilets throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on federal lands. Installation should begin in 2014.
  • Summer 2013: The Shoshone National Forest purchased and installed approximately 130 screens. As of the Fall of 2013, all the CXT type toilets on the Shoshone National Forest have screens to prevent bird mortality. Most, if not all, other older style vault toilets have some type of screens to prevent bird mortality on the Shoshone National Forest.
  • Summer 2013: Grand Teton National Park is the first National Park to have every vault toilet vent covered through the Poo-Poo Project. This park is safer for owls thanks to the Grand Teton Association and Macy's Septic Services who volunteered their time to install screens. Screens were purchased through a grant from 1% for the Tetons.
  • Winter/Spring 2013: Teton Raptor Center creates an alternative vent pipe screen, manufactured and designed regionally. The TRC screen incorporates a 1" gap for unimpeded ventilation in addition to top ventilation.
  • Fall 2012: Allen Luv, a volunteer fire lookout for Hume Lake Ranger District in Sequoia National Forest has received funding to purchase vent screens for 59 ventilation toilets in the Hume Lake Ranger District of Sequioa National Park.
  • Summer 2012: The Poo-Poo Project received $3,750 in funding from 1% for the Tetons to develope and install a custom ventilation screen on the remaining 30 open vault toilet vent pipes in Teton County and to promote the Poo-Poo Project outside of Teton County.
  • Summer 2012: The Poo-Poo Project and the Osprey DNA Project were accepted as poster presenters for the 2012 North American Ornithological Conference in Vancouver, BC in mid-August. TRC staff member, Meghan Warren and Consulting Biologist Jennifer Jellen, attended the conference to present these two conservation projects.
  • Spring 2012: The Poo-Poo Project recieved a grant from the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole's Youth Philanthropy Grant to manufacture and install screens on the remaining 30 open pipes in Teton County.
  • Fall 2011: During September 2011, teams of TRC staff members and volunteers embarked on the installation of the vent screens. In total, 100 vent screens were installed throughout Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and Targhee National Forest. During the installation mission we discovered additional vault pipes in need of the retrofit, so as funding permits we plan to purchase additional vent screens. If you'd like to help us expand the Poo-Poo Project, please give us a call or donate.

Help Teton Raptor Center continue this valuable conservation work by donating.

A trapped Boreal Owl. Photo courtesy of Joe Foust, USDA Forest Service.

A trapped Boreal Owl. Photo courtesy of Joe Foust, USDA Forest Service.

History of the PoO-PoO Project:

On July 6th, 2010, Teton Raptor Center learned that our Poo-Poo (Port-O-Potty Owl) Project proposal was awarded a full grant through 1% for the Tetons.

Our work at Teton Raptor Center is to advance raptor conservation through through education, researcj and rehabilitation. Raptors in our ecosystem face a number of human hazards in their quest for survival—vehicles, windows, power lines—and believe it or not porto-o-potties…in particular, the vault toilets all of us have probably used and will use when making a pit stop in our national parks and forests.

So, why would an owl want to go into a large, dark pipe? It's the natural behavior of many small, native owls to seek out such places for nesting, roosting and caching food. Thus, the open-tops of the air vents are a dangerous, and potentially deadly, lure.There is growing documentation by regional resource managers that small owls are being trapped in these vault toilets after the owls enter through open-topped vent pipes leading to the waste holding reservoirs below. Once they enter the waste pit they are trapped and unable to fly back up the pipe or out through the toilet.

Fortunately for the owls, and unlike with many other man-made wildlife hazards, there is a relatively inexpensive and simple fix to this problem. Attaching a screened vent cover to the open-top pipe would prevent small owls from entering the vent, and additionally preclude small mammals from doing the same.

This is a local and regional wildlife issue that potentially affects several species of owls, two of which are Species of Special Concern in Wyoming and one is a Sensitive Species in Idaho. In the Tetons, at least four species of small, cavity nesting owls are regularly found and may be attracted to these open vents, including the Western Screech Owl, Boreal Owl, Northern Pygmy Owl, and Northern Saw Whet Owl.

The exact number of owls which have been trapped in vault toilets located on our nearby public lands is difficult to assess, in part, because third party contractors empty the toilets.

Through the Poo-Poo Project we will partner with resource managers and facilities managers throughout Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton and Targhee National Forests to retrofit 85 vault toilet units with vent screens in an effort to eliminate small owls' exposure to accidental entrapment and to a most unpleasant demise.

We recognize that this is a newly identified issue on our public lands and there is little baseline data to adequately quantify change. Thus, this is truly a leadership initiative and will be a pilot project throughout which we will document the process, procedures, successes and challenges in implementing what we hope will become a region-wide effort to prevent entrapment.

Additionally, the Poo-Poo Project will serve as a community educational tool to share the natural history, biology and ecological significance of birds of prey in our ecosystem, encompassing direct programming with the local Boy Scouts troops, who will provide volunteer labor power during the installation of the screen fixtures.

Successful implementation and evaluation of the Poo-Poo Project will allow this initiative to be a model for other communities, parks, forests and resource managers, once again placing the Tetons on the map as a home of conservation leadership.

One owl meeting its ultimate fate at the base of a human waste receptacle is one owl too many. We can eliminate this hazard to the small owl species of the Tetons with the leadership of Teton Raptor Center and our public lands partners AND with significant and meaningful financial support from 1% for the Tetons.

Help us continue this work by donating.

Volunteer Mary Lohuis completes an installation

Volunteer Mary Lohuis completes an installation

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