Power companies protect wildlife while preventing outages

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Over the past two years, First Energy has stepped up efforts to cut down the number of power outages caused by birds while also protecting their habitat

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Over the past two years, First Energy has stepped up efforts to cut down the number of power outages caused by birds while also protecting their habitat.

For instance, at the Shenango Reservoir, the bald eagle population has increased. In February, 77 were counted.

It’s this surge in eagle numbers along with osprey birds that puts power outages caused by birds at the top of First Energy’s list.

These nests can cause major pole fires and outages because they’re so big. When this happens, it’s dangerous for the birds too.

The most recent initiative to keep birds off of utility poles is their avian app. With the app, utility workers submit pictures of bird nests they find on poles.

“Submit photos and answer some key questions such as the location of the bird’s nest and whether or not it’s active or inactive and then we’re able to house that information in one location and send it off to everybody that needs that information,” said Lauren Siburkis, First Energy spokesperson.

The app can identify the type of bird and where it’s at by using a drop-down menu. That process saves time. Before, workers would have to leave the site, go back to the office to file paperwork, and then return later to do the job.

Once the nest is spotted, First Energy has an environmental team that works with state wildlife to remove the nest.

“Disturbing or removing birds’ nests from our electrical equipment can be a very complicated task due to environmental restrictions. We typically have to work closely with state and federal wildlife agencies, so this app really expedites the approval process on our end,” Siburkis said.

The process allows for the safe removal of nests to protect the birds and cut down on service interruptions.

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