For Immediate Release
May 22, 1998

Contact: Diana M. Hawkins

LOUISIANA POWER COMPANY
RETROFITS POWER LINES TO PROTECT BALD EAGLES

Due to the prompt action of a Louisiana utility company maintenance crew, a pair of bald eagles and their two fledgling offspring, recently feared to be in grave danger of being electrocuted on high-voltage power lines in southeast Louisiana, are now out of immediate danger. The bald eagle is listed as threatened on the Federal list of threatened and endangered species.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Director, Sam D. Hamilton, engineers of Central Louisiana Electric Company, based in Mandeville immediately retrofitted some company power line equipment along Lake Road near LaCombe, Louisiana, after learning from a Service law enforcement special agent in early April that a young bald eagle had perished in January after coming to rest on one of the company’s high-voltage distribution power poles in the area, and that other nearby nesting eagles were in jeopardy.

"Because the Service anticipated that in less than a month two juvenile bald eagles some 3 miles away would be mature enough to leave the nest and take flight, action to remedy the situation needed to be taken quickly," Hamilton said. Under the Bald Eagle Protection Act, anyone found guilty of killing or harming an eagle can be fined or incarcerated.

Not only did the company complete the retrofit of 11 of their poles with the suspect transformers and equipment in less than a week, Hamilton said, but it made similar modifications to 30 additional power poles, all transformers and ground wires for approximately two miles, from Lake Ponchatrain north to Bayou Powell, he said. In addition, CLECO replaced all metal arms supporting transformers with wooden supports on these poles to prevent eagles or other birds from electrocuting themselves, he added, noting that the company, using its own initiative, also erected a special 70-foot pole topped with an 8-foot cross arm to serve as a safe perch for birds feeding along the two-mile stretch of open marsh on both sides of Lake Road. The utility company also installed a special device on top of each pole equipped with high-voltage transformers to discourage birds from perching on them.

Hamilton commended the utility company for its willingness to modify its equipment and power lines to protect eagles and other birds and in particular for its promptness in responding to the Service’s immediate concern for the two fledgling eagles.

"It’s because of such actions and the concern demonstrated by private individuals, groups and corporations like CLECO for our natural wildlife resources that a once-endangered species like our National symbol, the bald eagle, is once again flourishing to the point that the Service is today strongly considering a proposal to remove it from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species," Hamilton said.

Bald eagles were initially declared an endangered species in 1967. By 1995 the species had recovered to the point that it was upgraded to threatened status. Today, more than 5,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles live in the lower 48 states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages more than 94 million acres of land and water consisting of 514 national wildlife refuges, 65 national fish hatcheries, 38 wetland management districts with waterfowl production areas, and 50 wildlife coordination areas.

The agency also enforces Federal wildlife laws, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat, such as wetlands, administers the Endangered Species Act, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts.

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Release #: R98-038


1998 News Releases

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