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Powerline poles: a serious danger for the eagle-owl

Dec 20, 2010
Whereas populations of eagle-owl in many parts of Europe slightly increase, they stagnate or slightly reduce in Switzerland. The situation is especially critical in Valais, where only approximately ten breeding pairs are living. In the last twenty years this population has barely changed. According to a new study only ten percent of eagle-owls in Valais survive the first year of their lives. One fourth dies of electric shock when trying to sit on obsolete powerline poles, which do not correspond to current security standards.
Researchers of the Berne University and the Swiss ornithological station Sempach followed young eagle-owls by satellite-telemetry. They discovered that the mortality rate of young and also of old birds is extremely high - approximately 40 percent per year. The population can stay constant only because of the massive immigration of eagle-owls from France and Italy.
If the powerline poles had been sanified, the population of eagle-owls would annually increase by seventeen percent. The knowledge of sanifying powerline poles to make them bird-safe is already available. The Swiss Federal Office for Nature Protection has recently published a catalogue about the needed measures in this field.