Update: From Fortis
“It’s important to us to continuously improve our system and make it safer for people and wildlife alike. In addition to adding bird-proofing on an ongoing basis, we have a program in place to safely relocate osprey nests. We also work with likeminded community members on wildlife protection projects. For example in Oliver, our crews are helping build the town’s owl house as well as a rehabilitation centre for rafters.
“Anyone with concerns about our environmental standards, or would like to request support for a project, can call us at 1-866-436-7847 or visit fortisbc.com.”
Two photographs taken by Don Lawlor in the Park Drive and McKinney Rd area – where owl habitat has invaded power lines and pole systems resulting in injury and death for raptors.
If we could talk to them we would encourage them to ‘head to the hills’, away from civilization to bear their owlets.
Is Fortis the big bad villain? – I do not think so as the company has taken a number of steps to help raptors stay high up and out of the way. The power utility companies use new technology to cover areas of a pole where a nest could be constructed.
Don Lawlor is asking for more and met with Fortis this week but we have not heard back.
“Don Lawlor says over the past 2 months we’ve watched and photographed 2 adult owls raise 2 eggs into fledglings then into birds that fly. Unfortunately the day they first flew the day they were electrocuted together on a Fortis power pole here on McKinney in Oliver.
Birds are prolific in the Okanagan but, as Ted Cheskey of CBC News reports, “the Okanagan Valley is the place where there’s the highest density of species at risk in all of Canada” and he points out that some populations decreased by 95% in the last 40 years.”
“Don Lawlor says power companies should help and can do it with existing technology and if they object about the cost they should be forced to do it and save the birds and stop forest fires like on the east side of Vaseaux Lake caused by an electrocuted osprey catching fire and burning the area.”
Time of Deaths: 5:05 AM PST, Thursday May 9th
Location of incident: 337 McKinney Road, Oliver
End line power pole configuration between insulators exposed live wire close to arrestor ground.
Birds were flapping wings preparing to fly return to their home nest 80 meters south of the pole.
2 fledgling Great Horned Owls 7 weeks old on their maiden flight accompanied by their mother and flying toward their father near their nest.
Observed by: Donald and Maria Lawlor, 406-301 McKinney Road, Oliver
The story of Gretta and her chicks Hoppy and Happy
Happy was still by the nest but flapping for takeoff. It took several hours till finally she took off and flew perfectly straight to the pole where her mother was standing waiting for her. Hoppy and Happy jumped around and nuzzled each other after their first flight. Now Gretta was telling them to get back home to the nest as the sun was coming up again. They flapped and flapped like revving plane engines ready for takeoff but Hoppy’s wing brushed the bare wire between two insulators and a flash consumed the two birds knocking the Mother Owl off of the pole. An explosion knocked out the power on the street. Gretta landed on the ground followed by two thumps of her fledgling’s bodies hitting the ground for the first time, dead, beside her. The reason these amazing birds of prey died was the power pole was not configured safely for them.
What can you do? – encourage Utility Companies to do a better job of protecting species AND encourage municipalities to encourage more underground wiring of all utilities for a world without wires, poles, and where people can see the sky.