Linear Infrastructure includes construction of and maintenance on power lines, water lines, sewer lines, septic tanks, storm water/sewer systems, waste management, and associated roads, trails, canals, and other linear utilities. For Vertical Infrastructure, please see our page on Towers.
If your project is within 660 feet of an eagle nest, communal roost, or foraging area, you will need to follow specific measures described below to prevent take of eagles.
Power lines are a major cause of eagle mortality due to electrocution from improperly constructed or unprotected utilities. Electrocuted eagles can be severely injured or killed, which is take and is prohibited by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Taking a bald or golden eagle by electrocution can result in fines and/or imprisonment; proof of intent is not required to prosecute under the MBTA. Power utilities must be built or altered to protect birds from electrocution.
Bald and golden eagles in Pacific Region have high rates of electrocution because of their large body sizes, wide wing spans, hunting strategies, and nesting preferences. Eagles use power poles in open areas to hunt or to build nests on because these habitats generally have limited trees, cliffs, or other natural elements that can provide the same function. Eagles prefer the utility poles because they are elevated and provide good views of surrounding terrain. Birds with wet feathers and juveniles are particularly vulnerable to electrocution; water conducts electricity and juveniles are less experienced and skilled at landing and taking off.
If you find a live electrocuted eagle, please contact your local wildlife rehabilitator or license veterinarian prior to picking up the eagle. If you find a dead electrocuted eagle, please leave it in place and immediately call the Migratory Birds Permit Office at (503) 872-2715.
|Timber & Forestry
Recommendations for Power Utility Infrastructure:
- Frame utility structures with adequate separation between power phases or/and other phases/grounds to accommodate large birds:
- 60 inch minimum horizontal separation (wing span width).
- 40 inch minimum vertical separation (height).
- Cover phases or grounds where adequate separation is not feasible.
- Cover insulators, conductors, bushings, arresters, cutouts, and jumper wires.
- Pole height should be minimized to reduce attraction; poles with the greatest heights above surrounding terrain have higher likelihood of resulting in electrocutions.
- Poles located in areas of higher prey abundance or density should be specifically targeted for protection because these poles are likely to have a higher frequency of use.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends following guidance of the Avian Power Lines Interaction Committee to reduce the possibility of incidental take of eagles and other migratory birds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also strongly recommends development of an Avian Protection Plan. Please contact your Local Fish and Wildlife Office if you would like assistance in developing your Avian Protection Plan.
Other Linear Infrastructure
Other linear infrastructure activities (such as installation of water lines or construction of roads) generally involves the use of heavy equipment, excavation, land clearing, or other activity that may disturb eagle nests, communal roosts, or foraging areas.
Recommendations for Other Linear Infrastructure:
- Year Round:
- Avoid overstory tree removals within 330 feet of eagle nest site, communal roost, or forage area
- During Breeding Season (January 1 - August 15):
- Maintain a buffer between the eagle nest site, communal roost, or forage area and the use of heavy equipment, excavation, land clearing, or other activity that may disturb eagles
- If your activity IS visible or audible to eagles, maintain a buffer of 660 feet
- If your activity IS NOT visible or audible to eagles, maintain a buffer of 330 feet
- Outside of Breeding Season (August 16 – December 31):
- Avoid permanent alterations to landscape/vegetation within 660 feet of nest sites, communal roosts, or forage areas
If you can not meet the recommendations above, your circumstances are such that you need a case-by-case consultation. Please contact your Local Fish and Wildlife Service Office for guidance on additional minimization measures and whether or not a permit may be necessary.