By: Olivia Ho
According to a survey of five different places in the United States, most dead birds found beneath power lines are shot, rather than electrocuted.
Wildlife biologist and ornithologist, Libby Mojica, says that birds are being killed at way too high of a rate, and that, to preserve the bird population, the percentage of dead birds needs to decrease significantly.
Eve Thomason, a wildlife biologist, thinks that many of these birds could have been shot first, then electrocuted. “We really need X-rays to understand fully what may have happened,” said Thomason (The New York Times).
According to the journal iScience, Thomason and colleagues walked along the power lines collecting bird carcasses. Back in the lab, they looked for evidence of gunshots and other causes of death.
Most electrical companies spend a lot of money to protect birds from being electrocuted by their power lines. If it turns out that most of the dead birds discovered near the lines actually died from being shot, the companies would be able to save the time and resources dedicated to bird safety measures.
The dead birds are mostly ravens and raptors, including eagles, hawks, and falcons. Killing those animals is illegal because hunting them may lead to eventual extinction.
Thomason is expanding her team’s search to Nevada as they try to understand the reason why people are shooting the birds.
“What’s essential in order to stop the declines of birds is to understand what’s causing the declines of birds,” says, Pete Marra, an ornithologist at Georgetown University (The New York Times).