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Experts install devices to protect birds from electric shock

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Prague, May 18 (CTK) – Czech energy experts, together with ornithologists, continue installing special devices on high voltage poles to protect birds from electric shocks that claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of them a year, Zbynek Janoska, from the Czech Society for Ornithology, has told CTK.

“We have been cooperating with the E.On energy utility for a long time. We have chosen the localities for them to focus their efforts on,” Janoska said.

The level of risk in individual localities also depends on what is being grown on the nearest fields. For example, the alfalfa fields attract birds of prey which can easily watch and hunt the prey there, Janoska said.

Birds of prey are endangered by electric wires most of all, because they like sitting at places situated high above the ground in order to see the landscape all around. By landing on a voltage post and stretching their wings, they interconnect the conductor wires and receive a blow.

“Most often they [the victims] are common buzzards, but even the deaths of eagles have been registered,” Janoska said.

The poles also pose a danger for young storks.

“While learning to fly, they start with flying up to the highest places in the landscape, which are dry trees but often also high voltage poles,” Janoska said, adding that electric shock is the most frequent cause of young storks’ death.

He said the safety measures taken in this respect have changed since the 1990s.

It turned out that not even the installation of metallic “spines” or “thorns” can discourage birds of prey from landing atop poles. That is why the ornithologists no longer try to deter the birds but prefer securing a safe landing for them on special boards high above the wires.

Jan Volek, from E.ON, said the landing device was introduced in 1996 and has been continuously upgraded since.

E.ON’s spokeswoman Martina Slavikova said the company has installed the safety elements on more than 70,000 poles and 6,000 kilometres of high voltage wiring so far.

“In recent years, we annually made about 5,000 poles safe and we want to continue with the same intensity this year,” Slavikova said.

Ornithologists say the most risky areas are those around the town of Prostejov, south Moravia, the Bohemian and Moravian Highlands area, and mountain foothills, where the high voltage wiring is less dense but still without safety elements.

According to data from the Czech Nature Conservation Agency, up to 344,000 birds annually die of electric shock in the country.

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