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Electrocution Not The Main Cause of Bird Death on Power Lines

By: Yiran Liu

People usually think that birds get electrocuted on power lines. Yet recently, it has been found that people shoot birds that are on power poles. This has turned out to be a problem. In a survey of 5 sites in the United States, two-thirds of birds found dead beneath power lines had been shot.

Birds found dead along the power lines are often thought to have died because they were electrocuted. Those bodies showed burn marks and singes. “We really need X-rays to understand fully what may have happened,” said Ms. Thomason, who used to work surveying power lines to assess the risk they posed to birds. Ms. Thomason and her team worked along power lines in Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming to collect the remains of the 410 electrocuted birds.

They took them back to their lab for examinations for hints of bullets. “Most of them were coming back with bullet fragments in them or shotgun pellets,” Ms. Thomason said. They found out that of the birds that they determined a cause of death, 66 of them were shot. Reports were made because of these events before but it was the first time someone had studied intensely on this topic.

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