Wildlife advocates protest bird deaths in Petaluma highway netting

Wildlife lovers gathered in the shadow of the Highway 101 bridge over the Petaluma River Friday evening to protest slow action by state and federal agencies in preventing birds from dying in construction netting.

"Caltrans is NOT above the law," stated one sign. "Stop killing birds" was another.

Cliff swallows that build their mud nests each spring in the concrete bridge supports are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Activists have been pressing Caltrans for several weeks after they discovered contractors working on the highway widening project installed "exclusionary netting" that instead of preventing the birds from nesting, trapped and entangled them.

They estimate about 200 birds have died.

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