High Bird Counts Next to Heartland Power Line
Throughout the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) hearing on the Heartland Transmission Project in 2011, AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s environmental consultants (Stantec Consulting Ltd.) referred to the wetlands and wetland complexes along their preferred route through the Sherwood Park Greenbelt as “lower quality”, “not particularly important” and of “relatively low value to wildlife”. RETA, Strathcona County and the Sherwood Park Fish and Game Association challenged this erroneous habitat characterization by Stantec, pointing out the high numbers of birds that use this area during the spring, summer and fall.
Expert testimony presented at the April-May 2011 AUC hearing included research on the high numbers of birds that use the waterbodies along the selected route for the Heartland line and estimated that between 8,200 and 14,100 birds may be killed annually, colliding with an overhead Heartland line. Very high numbers of waterbirds were also counted in September 2011 (see this link) near the Heartland line currently under construction.
In addition to the high numbers of birds counted during many surveys along the Heartland line route by researchers, other than Stantec, RETA biologists counted 2,462 waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans) on Bretona Pond very early this morning (October 8) and estimated an additional 1,800 waterfowl on smaller ponds within the Bretona Pond Wetland Complex. A bald eagle and several northern harriers (marsh hawks) have also recently been hunting for prey at Bretona Pond. All of these birds will be at risk once the overhead Heartland line is completed because the line will run right over the Bretona Pond Wetland Complex.
This is yet another of many examples of the very biased and inaccurate environmental impact information presented by AltaLink’s and EPCOR’s consultants to the 2011 AUC hearing on the Heartland power line. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that about 174 million birds are killed annually in the U.S., crashing into overhead power lines and towers (see this link).