Europe and Central Asia
12 Sep 2014

BSPB cooperates with power companies to secure bird-killing power lines in Bulgaria

Energo-Pro
By Alessia Calderalo

It was around the middle of August when the nice summer vibe was broken for the bird lovers in Varna, Bulgaria. Around 29 storks were found dead in the village of Vaglen by picnickers who wanted nothing but to chill on a Sunday afternoon. Instead, they had to confront the horrifying sight of the birds which had perched in hazardous electricity poles, causing their death.

Electrocution by badly designed electricity poles is one of the most serious threats to birds in the world. It not only concerns white storks but also raptors, including endangered species like the Imperial Eagle. In the region of the Sakar Mountain, in south-eastern Bulgaria, one of the richest regions in terms of birds of prey and home to half of the country’s Imperial Eagle population, it caused the death of 67% of the birds between 2009 and 2013, according to a study involving satellite tracking of 25 juvenile Imperial Eagles.

Some birds like storks and raptors species tend to perch on the highest parts of the trees, buildings and electricity poles. Although nowadays safer poles are being produced, the ones composing the electricity web in Bulgaria were designed in a way that makes them dangerous to birds. They are notably fatal to migratory birds like white storks, which gather in hundreds and sometimes in thousands in Bulgaria to rest and feed before flying to or back from Africa.

To address the issue, BSPB (BirdLife in Bulgaria) has been engaging with power companies in the country. In collaboration with EVN Bulgaria and ENERGO-PRO, over 1,100 insulations   have been installed, avoiding many incidents not only for storks, but also for other endangered species like the Egyptian Vulture and the Imperial Eagle. Also, within the project Save the Raptor, for which BSPB received the very first Natura 2000 Conservation Award this year, our Partner has been cooperating with the company EVN Bulgaria on the insulation of about  700 dangerous power lines and the burying of overhead cables in nesting areas. BSPB provided the insulation caps while EVN mounted them.

See a video of pylon safeguarding here:

http://www.saveraptors.org/gallery.php?l=Bg&type=video&pageNum_Video_All=0&totalRows_Video_All=8&cat=3&id=306

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These installations already permitted to reduce by thousands the number of dead storks and raptors. The securing of the electricity network also benefit the corporate sector: every time a bird is electrocuted, the network material is damaged and the power supply along the line is discontinued, causing discomfort to the costumers. This is why the power companies have decided to go further. EVN, for example, has developed in cooperation with BSPB the project to secure a further 46 km of overhead power lines into underground cables and retrofit 2,740 poles, based on the mapping of the most dangerous poles produced by BSPB.

For more information, visit www.bspb.org


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.