Bald eagles, golden eagles and other large birds of prey are being electrocuted by power transmission lines in parts of Nebraska, according to a six-year study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The dead birds have been found under power transmission lines of 13 rural power districts, primarily in the western and northern parts of the state.Managers of those 13 companies this week received certified letters from the Fish and Wildlife Service notifying them of the eagle electrocution problems and inviting them to a meeting in Grand Island in August to discuss solutions.
The study indicates that more than 500 birds a year are electrocuted in Nebraska by coming in contact with power lines, according to the letter from Cleveland Vaughn, a special agent with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Electrocution is the No. 2 killer of eagles, said John Cooper, senior resident agent with the law enforcement division of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Gunshot remains the leading killer.
Eagles raise their wings several times and push off with their legs to get airborne. If they are sitting on an older style line, they will have their feet on the grounding wire and make contact with positive lines, he said.
Studies in such states as Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota show the problem is widespread, he said. The Divison of Law Enforcement has been looking at eagle kills in Nebraska for more than three years and has identified some problem stretches of power lines, he said.
Solutions can be simple, officials said. Companies often can drop the grounding wire slightly so bird wings will not touch the other wires. Or they can tilt the cross bars so the perch isn't as attractive. Or they can build a perch post higher.