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AltaLink employees soar into action to protect some of our local feathered friends

Osprey in the Innisfail area will have a safe space to nest this spring thanks to a few AltaLink employees.

After a routine patrol of transmission lines in the area, AltaLink employees identified an osprey nest on one of its structures. The nest posed a potential risk for power outages on the line, but it was also built with enough bailing twine to be a hazard to the osprey that will soon be returning.

The team got to work cleaning out the nest and planning for a safe solution.

“It’s very common for osprey to nest on transmission structures,” said Nikki Heck, environmental advisor, AltaLink. “While we try to accommodate nests where possible, once a nest becomes unsafe, we either trim and clean it up or work to relocate it to a safer location. This particular nest was large, and had massive amounts of twine in it, which can interfere with the reliability of the power line and also pose an entanglement hazard for osprey.”

Thanks to AltaLink’s Avian Protection Plan, employees know what to do if and when they see birds and a nest on one of AltaLink’s structures while in the field. AltaLink was the first Canadian utility to develop such a plan that is designed to reduce the impact that transmission facilities can have on birds. The plan includes set standards and processes that allow its environment and field teams to work quickly when they encounter bird nests on or near its transmission lines.

“I’ve gone through avian protection training, so I know exactly what to do when I encounter a nest such as this one,” said Ryan Lavallee, transmission lineman, AltaLink. “It feels good to be able to put my training into practice by helping to clean and move the nest to a safer location.”

Once the team finished cleaning up the nest, they got to work the following day installing an osprey platform and a new type of nest deterrent aimed at preventing further nesting. The new deterrents still allow for perching, but the osprey will no longer be able to construct a nest in unsafe locations on the transmission structures.

“It’s a nice feeling, and also very rewarding to know that these osprey will have a place to nest and perch once they return in the spring,” said Jacob Bouchard, transmission lineman, AltaLink.