Innisfail senior, Bernice Stewart, a birding enthusiast and amateur wildlife photographer, has started a petition to save birds that will be killed by an overhead high voltage power line to be built by AltaLink. Stewart already has close to 400 signatures of individuals who agree with her that the overhead line should not be built at Cook Lake, just east of Innisfail (Innisfail Province 1, Innisfail Province 2, CBC News).
Ms. Stewart regularly visits Cook Lake, a permanent lake about three-quarters of a kilometre long, and has recorded and photographed many species of waterfowl, other waterbirds, songbirds and even bald eagles and swans.
The power line route which will cross Cook Lake has unfortunately already been approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) which, along with electricity transmission companies in Alberta, refuse to seriously address the bird hazard problems that overhead high voltage power lines create. It is a well-known fact that overhead power lines kill birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that close to 175 million birds are killed annually in the U.S. alone, crashing into overhead power lines. A comprehensive 2013 study estimates that up to 229.5 million birds are killed every year in Canada by transmission lines built above ground.
There are well-documented records of hundreds of birds killed through collision with overhead AltaLink high voltage lines in many locations in Alberta including Pincher Creek, Frank Lake and Big Lake, to name but a few. In one location alone near Pincher Creek, about 450 birds were killed crashing into a recently built overhead high voltage line built by AltaLink, even after the transmission company was warned by wildlife experts that the power line was being built in an area frequented by thousands of waterfowl and other birds. Eleven Trumpeter Swans were killed crashing into another recently built AltaLink overhead power line at Frank Lake, southeast of Calgary, and experts estimate 10 times as many were actually killed. AltaLink’s proposal to build the line at Frank Lake was approved by the AUC, even though the lake is an internationally-recognized Important Bird Area (IBA).
AltaLink violates federal legislation that protects migratory birds by continuing to build massive high voltage power lines above ground that regularly kill migratory birds, including “At Risk” species such as Trumpeter Swans. AltaLink continues to suggest that bird deaths can be mitigated by bird diversion devices that have questionable success. Unfortunately, AltaLink, other electricity transmission companies in Alberta and the AUC would rather continue to build high voltage power lines above ground than bury them where they cannot kill birds. As well, there are many other advantages of burying high voltage lines associated with health, safety, property value, the environment, aesthetics, agriculture, tourism, weather, fires, aircraft, power outages, pipeline corrosion, reliability, maintenance costs and transmission loss costs.
It’s not a matter of whether or not the AltaLink line to be built across Cook Lake will kill birds…rather, it’s a matter of how many birds will be killed annually. See this link and this link for more facts about above-ground transmission lines killing birds.