Birds and aerial lines

    If not adequately constructed, mean voltage power poles can represent a great risk for electrocution in birds, with large species being particularly vulnerable. Technical rehabilitation measures are known.

    Aims

    Mean voltage power poles can represent a great risk for electrocution in birds. Due to their large wingspan, species such as Eurasian eagle-owl and white stork are particularly at risk. Already in 1997, the Association of Swiss Power Companies VSE had published a brochure with technical measures to make mean voltage power poles safe for birds. Despite this, dangerous power poles still are widespread in Switzerland.

    In agreement with the partners indicated below, the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN has mandated the Swiss Ornithological Institute to update the compilation of technical rehabilitation measures of dangerous mean voltage power poles.

    Approach

    Considering the experiences of the past years, including those made in other countries (e.g. Germany), the technical measures for rehabilitation of dangerous mean voltage power poles were updated.

    Significance

    The risk of electrocution is particularly high for large bird species. Mitigation of dangerous mean voltage power poles is possible, which, however, are still hardly implemented in Switzerland.

    In the long run, all dangerous mean voltage power poles should be made safe for use by birds.

    Results

    The power poles should be checked in terms of their construction, and dangerous poles should be made safe for use by birds. The technical rehabilitation measures have been updated 2009 and provide the basis for the implementation of measures (more on the German and French versions can be found here). A revision is being planned. The implementation has to be done in collaboration with partners, in particular with the Association of Swiss Power Companies VSE, the Federal Inspectorate for Heavy Current Installations ESTI and the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN.

    First implementations
    The Valais and the Engadine are particularly important regions for Eurasian eagle-owls and white storks. In the valley floor, the mean voltage power poles were checked and 1.500 dangerous poles inventoried. In collaboration with the cantonal authority for hunting, fishing and wildlife and the electric utility companies concerned, the renovations are now being addressed at the large scale. The inventory in the Engadine yielded 253 dangerous mean voltage power poles. Here, the local electric utility companies have already implemented first renovations.

    Project management

    Daniela Heynen, Emmanuel Revaz

    Partners

    University of Bern, Conservation Biology
    BirdLife Switzerland
    Verband Schweizerischer Elektrizitätsunternehmen VSE
    Federal Inspectorate for Heavy Current Installations ESTI
    Federal Office for the Environment FOEN
    Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE
    Federal Office of Transport FOT
    Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB

    Financial support

    Marion J. Hofer-Woodhead-Stiftung