ADVERTISEMENT

Birds, squirrels take toll on Juneau power lines

  • Associated Press
  • June 13, 2014 - 1:15 PM

JUNEAU, Alaska — Squirrels and birds are turning the lights out on customers in Alaska's capital.

Wildlife has knocked out power to Juneau customers seven times this year, the Juneau Empire (http://bit.ly/UzCxrq) reported.

The latest was Wednesday night when a bald eagle dropped trash from a city landfill onto a line. The fallen eagle fodder caused a loud bang and knocked out power to 10,020 customers, said Debbie Driscoll, spokeswoman for Alaska Electric Light and Power Co.

Wildlife disrupts power in communities around the country but Juneau, a commercial fishing community off the road system on Alaska's Panhandle, gets power interruptions from a large eagle population and sometimes even fish.

An eagle last summer was carrying a piece of halibut connected to line in its talons. The eagle dropped the fish and line onto a power line, caused an outage, and watched unhappily from a nearby tree as a crew took down the obstruction, Driscoll said.

"It never did get its lunch back," she said.

Both of those eagles survived.

An eagle in January died when it flew into wires. A raven died after it did the same thing in May.

A pigeon died June 4 when it flew into a line and knocked out service to one customer. A squirrel was zapped a day later knocking out service to 350 customers.

The company recorded six avian deaths last year: three eagles, one raven, one crow and one grouse. In 2012, five eagles, three ravens and two crows were electrocuted.

The decrease, Driscoll said, may be due to plastic yellow coils the company has placed on power lines as a bright, visual cue. The eagles that get into trouble are possibly chasing or sparring, she said.

"I think they're generally smart enough to avoid the lines unless they're distracted," she said.

© 2014 Star Tribune