Before they catch fire, FirstEnergy using drones to remove protected birds from power poles
FirstEnergy is first utility in the country to use the technology to scout and save nests
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - FirstEnergy has thousands of power poles and distribution towers all over Ohio. Pennsylvania and the Northeast and the osprey loves to build its nest on top of them.
An osprey can build a full-blown nest of branches, leaves and dried grass in 2 days and start laying eggs according to FirstEnergy Environmental Scientist Amy Ruszala.
That nest creates a danger for the birds, their eggs and your power.
“When spring storms come in they will actually get wet and that wet wood will conduct electricity and that will catch the pole on fire," Ruszala said.
That fire can consume the nest, eggs or young osprey that can’t fly, and knock out power to the area.
The challenge when inspecting towers and poles, that can be as high as 120 feet, is determining if a nest is active or abandoned.
Licensed drone operators, along with Ruszala, can now take a peek from a distance.
“So the drone can stay 330 feet away, and the camera can still zoom in enough that I can tell details of how many eggs are in that nest,” Ruszala said from FirstEnergy headquarters in Akron. “Where as previously we were using bucket trucks and it would scare the birds off. It was just more disturbance.”
If a nest needs to be relocated FirstEnergy works with conservationists to use an incubator to house the eggs, build a new nest box near-by, and replace the eggs.
Ruszala estimates throughout the energy company’s lines they have had to protect an estimated 40 osprey nests.
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