New reflective markers help birds avoid power lines
Andrea MacLean, CTV Calgary
Published Wednesday, August 24, 2016 8:43PM MDT
Many migratory birds will soon begin the long trip south for the winter. The trip comes with many hazards, one of them being transmission lines that cross their flight path.
Hitting a line can be deadly for birds but Alberta's largest regulated electricity transmission company is trying to keep birds from colliding with their wires.
“We take bird collisions very seriously,” said AltaLink Environmental Advisor, Nikki Heck. “We’ve had a standard in place since 2008 where we’ve been installing various different types of bird markers.”
There were several reports in the spring of birds colliding with the power lines over Frank Lake near High River. On Wednesday crews were out installing the bird diversion system.
The system requires linemen to scoot across the 500 kilovolt line and stopping every 10 metres to install a bright orange and yellow reflective marker.
The markers, which can be seen kilometres away by birds and humans alike, have reflective coating on three sides. They are designed to be seen in all types of weather conditions and they even glow in the dark.
“Birds fly in at night, birds fly in early in the morning or in fog. In those sorts of conditions it’s very difficult to see the line so we want to see a product like this on the line so they can still see it,” said Heck.
“Waterfowl and other large water-birds like swans, geese, ducks, they’re not overly maneuverable. So, anywhere we have a transmission line near a wetland area that supports large numbers of birds like this, this is a good mitigation that we can use to help those birds to see the line in advance so that they can maneuver around the obstacle.”
AltaLink's powerline through Frank Lake was built in 1985 and back then the lake was just a dry depression in the ground. It was filled by a diversion in 1988 and that's when it became a birder’s paradise.
Bird lovers and photographers like Brenda Foster often visit the area. Foster says she’s happy that AltaLink is installing the reflectors.
“I think it’s excellent. They’re the ones that put the wires up there and for them to take a step into preserving the birds that could possibly fly into there,” said Foster.
Installation of the avian deflection markers will be complete this week. Seventy-five-hundred of them are being installed over several kilometres across in the area of Frank Lake.
AltaLink says the project to protect the Frank Lake birds will cost it about $500,000.
With files from Kevin Green