Electrocution: a threat to the lanner
Electrocution is one of the causes of mortality for many bird species, especially large birds of prey and vultures. It happens when a flying or perching bird touches both a live part and a conductive part of the pylon.
A pylon in open areas can be a convenient perch: it is ideal for resting, hunting or even to build a nest on. The large wingspan of some birds of prey, herons and storks makes such bird groups more at risk of electrocution, particularly during take-off and landing.
However, good planning and design can drastically reduce the impact that electrical infrastructure has on biodiversity (link). Within the 7 conservation actions planned in our LIFE Lanner project, action C3 is aimed at mitigating this impact for the lanner.
To this end, our partner E-distribuzione has intervened in some areas of the Viterbo hinterland, specifically in the Lake Vico Regional Nature Reserve and within the Natural Regional Park of Marturanum. E-Distribuzione inspected the relevant areas together with the staff of the Lazio Region involved in the LIFE Lanner, and pinpointed over a hundred pylons for which intervention is needed.
Our progress so far
As of today, 83 medium voltage pylons have been secured (about 6 kilometers of power line) in the Vico area, and 44 pylons in Marturanum. We plan to identify a further 50 supports in the near future in areas yet to be defined.
The work consisted in the insulation of bare conductors close to the pylons. A special anti-shock silicone sheath covered in insulating tape was used. The contractor responsible for the work followed the instructions and procedures indicated by E-distribuzione in their “Handbook for mitigating the risk of electrocution in birds”.
A small percentage of a power line pylons can be responsible for a large share of bird mortality, so the identification of the points on which to act is essential for conservation success. Furthermore, securing lines in the vicinity of hacking boxes is critical to protect the young lanners released as part of the project, who are still inexperienced in flight.
Good news for all biodiversity in the area
Of course, the lanner is not the only species that will benefit from the securing of power lines in the area. This concrete conservation action is essential to increase the chances of successful reintroduction planned by the project. On top of that, all other flying species can take advantage of a safer environment.