Fairmont City residents were treated to an up close and personal experience with several birds of prey at the local community center, July 26, thanks to the Illinois Raptor Center and Ameren Illinois.
Illinois Raptor Center executive director Jane Seitz and program director Jack Nuzzo wowed the crowd with a barn owl, peregrine falcon, red-tail hawk and turkey vulture as part of the organization’s Wild about Wildlife presentations it is doing throughout the Ameren Illinois service territory. The Illinois Raptor Center is a non-profit based in Decatur that ensures the well-being of native animals through wildlife rehabilitation and provides education about conservation efforts. The raptors included in the program have been rehabilitated by the center, but cannot be released back into the wild, and are now used to educate the public. Ameren has been a long-time partner with the Illinois Raptor Center.
“The Illinois Raptor Center (IRC) provides an invaluable service to the community not only be retrieving and rehabbing injured birds, but also by providing education about wildlife and the environment like the presentation for Fairmont City residents,” said Brian Bretsch, spokesman for Ameren Illinois. “We work closely with the IRC and other avian experts to help train our employees on what to do if they come across an injured bird of prey.”
Ameren Illinois created an Avian Protection Program several years ago to help protect birds of prey and migratory species from potential hazards. Finding solutions to protect our avian friends not only supports our ecosystem, but also protects the reliability of the electric and natural gas supply we all enjoy.
It’s an ongoing plan to upgrade our electric and natural gas utility system with higher standards and better structures that are avian-safe for the eagles, hawks, falcons, osprey, owls and other birds that dot the Ameren Illinois’ 43,000-square-mile service territory area.
Here are some of the ways Ameren Illinois is doing its part to help our feathered friends:
Protective covers in high-risk areas: After inspecting more than 150 distribution circuits located near known raptor nests, we added insulating products on hundreds of poles and other structures that posed the greatest risk to large birds of prey. For example, protective covering on the center phase of a three-phase pole top allows large birds to perch anywhere on the pole without being potentially electrocuted.
Flight diverters: Reflective devices have been installed on power lines crossing lakes and wetlands to help large birds, such as swans, blue herons or pelicans, avoid collisions with power lines. The diverters can be seen from a greater distance than the power line, allowing the bird more time to correct its flight path and avoid injury.
Avian-safe construction standards: We revised our construction standards to ensure that new distribution lines include insulated components or increased spacing between wires so eagles, hawks, owls and other large birds of prey can land on a line and spread their wings – safely.
Responsible nest management: We work with the proper government agencies when nests must be removed from utility poles or transmission towers for safety or reliability reasons. Only inactive nests of non-endangered species are removed.
Workforce training: Ameren Illinois has trained hundreds of employees and contractors on the installation and use of avian products, new construction standards, and proper handling and reporting related to protected species and their nests.