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1 November 2010 Predicting and Correcting Electrocution of Birds in Mediterranean Areas
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Abstract

Bird electrocution on power lines is an important conservation problem that affects many endangered species. We surveyed 3,869 pylons in the Barcelona Pre-littoral Mountains (Catalonia, NE Spain) and collected 141 carcasses of electrocuted birds, mainly raptors and corvids. Univariate analysis indicated that metal pylons with pin-type insulators or exposed jumpers, with connector wires, located on ridges, overhanging other landscape elements, and in open habitats with low vegetation cover were the most dangerous. A logistic regression model indicated that the probability of a pylon electrocuting a bird was mainly related to pylon conductivity, distribution of the conductive elements on the cross-arms, cross-arm configuration, habitat, topography, whether the pylon was overhanging other landscape elements, and presence of rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). We validated the predictive power of this model by using a random sample of 20% of all pylons surveyed. We found that bird mortality was aggregated mainly on pylons assigned a high probability risk by the model. Pylons included in the very high electrocution risk category (9.2%) accounted for 53.2% of carcasses, whereas pylons classified in the low electrocution risk category (54.5%) only accounted for 3.5% of mortality. Power companies employed this classification to prioritize the correction of 222 pylons by installing alternate cross-arms and suspended jumpers and isolating wires and jumpers. We evaluated the effectiveness of this mitigation strategy. A significant fall in the mortality rate on corrected pylons combined with the lack of any reduction in the mortality rate in a sample of 350 noncorrected pylons indicated that the model selected adequately the most dangerous pylons and that the applied correction measures were effective. Consequently, our strategy may be a useful tool for optimizing efforts and resources invested in solving the problem of bird electrocution.

Albert Tintó, Joan Real, and Santi Mañosa "Predicting and Correcting Electrocution of Birds in Mediterranean Areas," Journal of Wildlife Management 74(8), 1852-1862, (1 November 2010). https://doi.org/10.2193/2009-521
Published: 1 November 2010
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