Manager’s Message – June 2023

Nesting Conflicts Are Not Straightforward

Dear Member,

Ned Ratterman headshotOne ongoing challenge for our operations department is handling bird nesting issues on our poles or in proximity to our lines. To many, the logical action would be to remove nests. We wish it were that simple.

All migratory birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. More than 1,000 species of birds are protected by the act. Nearly every bird you encounter is protected from human interaction, whether that be a bothersome crow or magpie, a stately bald eagle or a magnificent trumpeter swan.

Because they are protected, we cannot remove birds or nests without permission and oversight. Nor do we wish to. We prefer to enlist the expertise of USFWS staff to oversee our actions in this realm.

Some species are not easily discouraged and rebuild in an astonishingly short timeframe. Enter the tenacious osprey. Above is a photo of an osprey nest that caused
an outage. If crews are contacted about this type of outage, they first must spend
considerable time finding the problem. When that location is remote, the outage can last a long time.

An osprey is known to build one of the most troublesome nests for utilities, often
including wire, bailing twine, large pieces of sagebrush and other items not wanted near electric lines. They build nests quickly, even if the nest has been removed before.

Powerline pole on fireEfforts must be continually directed toward identification of nests of all species before they are active in the spring. We plan to have subsequent interaction with authorities who can work with us to develop ongoing plans to minimize power line/bird conflicts.

Rest assured, Wasco Electric Cooperative will work with the USFWS to identify and mitigate risks to birds and our system moving forward. We will supply identification and documentation concerning nesting locations to biologists to help develop comprehensive plans to minimize negative consequences for animals and humans.

For now, please understand we are in a never-ending process that is anything but simple.

Thank you,
General Manager Ned Ratterman