FortisBC crews were out covering exposed line in Oliver after two baby owls died when they were electrocuted in May. (Robin Grant-Western News)

Okanagan power line that electrocuted owls fixed

Dangerous wires a result of legacy equipment, says Fortis

Oliver resident Donald Lawlor had come to know the Great Horned owl family living in a tree near his home before he witnessed the death of two fledglings when they were electrocuted after flying into a power line.

“I was heartbroken. Many of the people who watched them also felt the same way. They felt so bad many of them were crying,” he said of the incident that took place in May.

The young owls were learning to fly with their mother on the lines, where they often perched, when it occurred.

On Wednesday, FortisBC crews were out covering the exposed lines that took the young owls’ lives.

READ MORE: Osprey camera goes live in the South Okanagan

“If we know that there’s a risk to wildlife on our lines, we will take precautions to fix it,” said Nicole Brown, communications advisor with FortisBC. “What we are doing on an ongoing basis is adding bird proofing and protection on our system.”

She said the electricity and natural gas distribution utility company was unaware the owls were at risk and could not do anything about it until it was too late.

Much of the risks to wildlife come from the “legacy structures” on the system put in place before environmental risks were considered, like the one in Oliver, Brown said, which the company is in the process of replacing.

To prevent more wildlife tragedies, residents are advised to get in touch with FortisBC if they believe a line is a threat to wildlife. Brown said the procedure is costly, something customers would have to pay for, and is based on the risk to wildlife.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Osprey dive-bombs goose nest

“We cover everything where there is a known risk. People will see cone shapes over some of our structures, they’ll see spinals on some of our structures. People may not realize how much wildlife protection is already in place.”

Roxanne Tripp, FortisBC environmental program lead, said the company operates on a risk-based approach.

“We need to know where those risks are,” she said, adding the incident was heartbreaking to her because as a biologist she specialized in owls.

“Every time somebody sees something that they have concerns about — if they see potential for a long-term interaction with the infrastructure — feel free to pick up the phone or send us an email.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


Robin Grant
Reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or follow me on Twitter
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Just Posted

Rockets lose to Blazers in nail-biting shootout

The Rockets came back to tie the game 2-2, but would ultimately lose in a nine-round shootout.

Okanagan brothers recognized with medals of bravery for saving four from drowning in 2013

The two brothers saved four from drowning after they were swept into the rough waters of Wood Lake.

Kelowna author releases 2nd book with stories of overcoming personal trauma

The launch for Diana Reyers’ Trauma to Recovery comes to Kelowna Sept. 21

Rockets make cuts to Memorial Cup roster

The Kelowna Rockets re-assigned three players to their respective farm-affiliates on Sunday.

Unsecure wheelbarrow causes motorcycle crash in West Kelowna

One person injured in a motorcycle crash in West Kelowna.

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Video: Rain doesn’t deter Terry Fox runners in Salmon Arm

Dozens showed up to continue the Canadian icon’s marathon of hope.

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Road block was costly legal battle for Summerland

Resolving Garnet Valley dispute took six years

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: Penticton fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read