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Crane Dangers Alarm Wildlife Officials
By Corinne Hautala
KHAS-TV in Nebraska
March 15, 2007 Newscast
Whooping Cranes use this portion of the Platte River more than any other area. ”One of the highest causes of death for them is power lines, which makes this critical,” said Harms.


Central Nebraska and the Platte River are home to thousands of Sandhill cranes right now. The Platte is an essential stop for cranes, providing them with food and rest, but a nearby danger is causing hundreds of birds to die there.

It’s not a job envied by most. Three times a week, surveyors tread the Platte River looking for dead birds. “We found a large amount of mortality going on,” said Bob Harms, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The study began last year to determine how deadly the two power lines that cross the Platte River at Rowe Sanctuary are to the birds’ migration. Last year in March alone, they counted almost a hundred birds. That doesn’t take into account the birds that drift down the stream or the ones picked up from other wildlife animals.

“When it is windy, a bird cannot easily move, and at night, they cannot see the line,” said Harms.

In an attempt to alleviate the problem, Dawson Public Power District added bright yellow diverters on the wires.“Those have not been very effective, judging by number of birds we are finding,” Harms said.

In a team effort, Dawson Public Power District, Rowe Sanctuary, The Fish and Wildlife Service, and Nebraska’s Game and Parks commission are looking for a solution.

Power lines killing the birds violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so some sort of action has to be taken. That’s why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is paying $23,000 for new diverters that glow in the dark.

”We really prefer to bury lines, but that is really expensive,” Harms said.

The new diverters will also help save an endangered species. Whooping Cranes use this portion of the Platte River more than any other area. ”One of the highest causes of death for them is power lines, which makes this critical,” said Harms.

 

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