BC Hydro tests new way of preventing nesting ospreys from sparking power pole fires in Lake Country

Ready for 'fowl play'

Cindy White

The nesting season is here, and BC Hydro and residents of Lake Country are crossing their fingers that we don't get a repeat of last year.

There were several power outages in Lake Country last spring caused by ospreys trying to build nests on power poles because Canada geese had taken over their nesting platforms.

"The goose is occupying the osprey nest and there is a fight every year, every year at the same time," resident Monai Daros told Castanet in May 2022.

"It is tricky because there is a bit of a crossover between the nesting seasons for both the geese and the ospreys," explains Dave Cooper with BC Hydro community relations in the Southern Interior.

He says geese start nesting before the ospreys and then when the ospreys return, they find their nesting platforms already taken and look for other alternatives. "Sometimes that's on top of our power poles, which led to the fires that we had last year," Cooper adds.

BC Hydro did take a number of measures to try to prevent it from happening again, but none are guaranteed to work. That includes the installation of more nesting platforms this year throughout the Okanagan.

"We've also worked with and received permission from conservation offices to try something new this year. It is just an experimental pilot that we are trying.

"We are allowed to place a piece of plywood on the platform early on in the spring, which will prevent the geese from nesting on those platforms. Now that we've identified that we are approaching nesting season for the osprey, we'll remove those pieces of plywood so that the osprey have a safe place to go," said Cooper.

The third option is to use 'guard geese'. Crews place decoy geese on the platforms so real geese go elsewhere. However, Cooper points out that it has a time limit. The birds will eventually figure out there's no real threat and set up shop despite the decoys.

He can't say how much bird nest-related fires cost BC Hydro every year but points out that workers and equipment have to be dispatched. When there's a fire, the power pole often has to be replaced.

Cooper encourages the public to keep an eye on hydro poles in popular nesting areas and if they see any arcing or smoke to call 911. The fire department will then get in touch with BC Hydro.

"We appreciate the effort and the patience as we continue to battle the geese and otherwise, we'll just hope that there aren't any outages this spring as a result of the fowl play."

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