Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Environment

Another Eagle Electrocuted

Late in the evening of 4th May a staff member from Richmond Primary School reported to my home what they thought to be a dead or badly injured eagle near the side of Pittwater Rd they saw while walking their dog.

The bird was indeed dead and had classic signs of a massive electrocution (see pictures). I immediately reported the dead eagle with photos, through Tasnetwork’s website saying exactly where it was found and on 6th May received an acknowledgment of my report and phone message from their environment section.

The eagle was stone cold so had been dead for many hours and the mud on its beak but lack of spattered mud and sand suggested it had fallen after the last heavy rain on Sunday 1st. Lots of people walk past there so it can’t have been down long – probably between late on the 3rd or early on the 4th. A resident along the power lines beyond where the eagle was found tells me they had a 3 hour blackout on the 3rd so I guess that’s when it was killed.

It was an adult male wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax (a federally and state endangered subspecies). It was almost certainly a member of one of 3 pairs within range of Richmond, most probably the most local pair that many Richmonders appreciate as they hunt rabbits and hares along Butchers Hill and pass over the town stirring up other raptors, chooks, ravens, galahs and cockatoos (and bird watchers).

Aside from burns the bird was in prime condition. There appeared a massive short between the knee and adjacent wing base with a very strong smell of burned feathers. Superficial (but experienced) examination showed no other injury. As with most such cases involving the body proper the bird probably died instantly.

The bird was under a typical configuration of 3 parallel wires in the same plane distributing power to several houses. It was well away from a pole and very far from the adjacent high tension power lines. What seems to happen in these cases is the bird hits the first (outside) wire and being heavy (more than 4 kg) carries into the second earthing . Birds with less momentum hitting the first wire usually do not carry enough to arc on the second. I have seen both things happen.

I have been told that such shorts register as a fault and that a search is carried out for the cause. That certainly happens at a transformer near me that regularly kills birds (with a very loud bang) but it seems the ‘system’ may not be effective all the time. This recent outage was apparently fixed but the bird not found (if the bird was found by power authorities they would retrieve it). As you can see the bird couldn’t be more obvious and indeed 4 different people have told me they saw it that day so it would seem no proper search was carried out.

A conversation today with a representative of Tasnetworks environment section reveals a search was carried out but essentially only of the wires per se looking for any obvious problem. The eagle lying under the wires, plain as day, was not seen so the outage goes down as “cause unknown’, the most common category. One cant help but wonder how many are indeed caused by birds but not recorded as such because of priorities in searches.

Promptness in searching is important too in that electrocuted birds can be scavenged or otherwise removed and therefore not found by late searchers.

It’s not an academic issue since I have long argued with power authorities that there are probably many more birds hitting wires and/or getting electrocuted than they acknowledge. I suspect many large birds found injured roadside presumed hit by vehicles, have actually hit wires – I once saw two fighting brown falcons Falco berigora tumbling earthwards pile into such wires, one being decapitated and falling dead, roadside and the other breaking a leg and a wing falling on the road.

It would seem that besides more collisions, there also may be more electrocutions than recorded. We really have to better match what actually happens with what’s recorded to allow realistic cost/benefit analyses for improving wiring configurations.

Editor’s note: this is an updated version of the article.

Nick Mooney is a wildlife ecologist who lives near Richmond, Tasmania.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. MJF

    May 16, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    #17 K.A.

    Poster Middleton @ #22 salutes and thanks you for “speaking the truth” in the face of adversity so lets hear a little of it by you answering my so far unanswered questions :

    1) which are the rapidly diminishing bird species due to forestry activities (as claimed by you)

    2) how many humans slaughtered by log trucks since whatever date you like (as claimed by you)

    3) Provide factual evidence of alleged 3 x felled WTE nests in coupes on the Tasman Peninsula despite industry awareness (as claimed by you)

    #22 Get real. If you’re referring to me then none of my comments are hateful nor do I hate KA, I simply question anyone’s anti-forestry claims when they are clearly vague, emotive, unresearched, ill-informed, concocted and/or simply biased. Anything purporting to be hateful would not be published, particularly from an unabashed industry supporter like me.

    All forestry activities in Tasmania are not the exclusive function and domain of FT. There are other players in the game (as there always has been) but rank and file critics e.g. you and KA don’t comprehend that. You can’t help beating up on FT while others fly happily under the radar.

  2. Robert Middleton

    May 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    #13 A.K. – I salute you and thank you for having the courage to speak the truth, even in the face of the hateful remarks that are launched in your direction.

    Anyone with a moderate degree of intelligence and a measure of worldly perspective can easily see that Forestry Tasmania is nothing more than a malignant tumor feeding on the body and soul of Tasmania. It is sucking the life out of the island.

    There might have been a time when forestry was an honorable profession. Today, it occupies a smelly corner deep in the dark realm of rotten, corrupt politics.

    The fact that FT still exists cannot be justified, rationalized or explained. It reminds me of a similar horror that exists in my own country: guns. Surely the rest of the world must look at our maniacal love of guns and the frequency with which there are mass shootings here, and think “how is that possible?” “It doesn’t make sense!” “Why don’t they do something about it?” “What are these people thinking?”

    Perhaps even some Tasmanians express such shock and disbelief and feel slight superiority. But hold on! You have something just as destructive and equally impossible to justify and understand. It is your pet – the Godzilla-like monster that you have affectionately named Forestry Tasmania. “Good old FT. He sure does cause a ruckus now and then but we still love him. Sure, we allow him to roam the island, destroying life and land and filling the air with his filthy vapors and smokes. But, hey, he’s part of the family.”

  3. Ed Parker

    May 16, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Carob,

    Would you mind emailing TasNetworks (customer.enquiries@tasnetworks.com.au), detailing the street you’re referring to in your comment. We would like to determine if these electrocutions have been reported.

    We use the incident data to help understand the specific risk factors in order to respond to the challenge as strategically as possible.

    Ed Parker – Principal Environment and Sustainability Advisor, TasNetworks

  4. Carob

    May 16, 2016 at 3:16 am

    I suspect the number of eagle deaths is much higher than reported. We have had two wedge tails electrocuted in our street alone in the past four years. We must do more to protect these amazing animals.

  5. Andrew Ricketts

    May 15, 2016 at 2:28 am

    TasNetworks could underground the power in all areas of mapped Priority Eagle habitat and where known nests are close to power lines. But it is not just eagles and not just powerlines, which are the problem. Clearly a band-aid solution.

    When will we start to consider we MUST make a much more effective effort towards sustainable development, more or less as per the concept developed by Bruntland in about 1980 and including the precautionary principle.

    1980 was quite while ago and yet what is the Governments mantra for the Federal Election “jobs and growth”.

  6. Bob D

    May 14, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    In relation to the local Richmond eagle pair, I am pleased to report seeing a pair cruising around Brinktop hill this morning, 15/5. Good signs that it is indeed the local pair and I hope that they can continue adding to the population again this year. I am reliably informed that they have successfully bred 5 chicks in the last 5 seasons, with 2 last year alone.

  7. A.K.

    May 14, 2016 at 10:56 am

    #15, Robin, two of the coupes were on private land and FT personal were there supervising or whatever they’re supposed to do. The other one I’m now told, was nth of Eagle hawk neck on the west side of the Forestier peninsula, opposite Masons point and consisted of two nests.

    #16, the crazy stuff is in your post, with wildly hilarious accusations and in particular, my posts have no substance. I’m happy for you to see them in that way, it makes no difference to the reality you are desperate to deny and conceal. It only reflects why our society and wildlife is in the sad position we find ourselves.

    Wildlife for some are just there for their pleasure to abuse and destroy at their whim, the same goes for road kill. Yes I’ve run over an animal many years ago, but in a place like Tas, the only reason log trucks run at night, is to not frighten tourists to death as they career down the roads and to give the impression there is no logging.

    Haven’t driven on Tas rural roads for many years at night and can see no reason to do so. FT, leave a small area of timber along roads, to disguise the disgusting mess further in and touro’s think they are driving through pristine forest, whilst a few metres away, it’s a dedicated war zone against wildlife and a viable future.

    Make up all the excuses you want, use all the abuse you can muster against any who point out the hypocrisy and idiocy of forestry practices and economically stupid power poles. Do the real economic modeling of the current practices of power poles and if possible, you may see the real facts of what primitive forestry practices and even more primitive energy distribution does to our economy, environment and wildlife. In the end, it’s reality which wins and never the denialists.

  8. MJF

    May 14, 2016 at 6:41 am

    #13

    “You find all the facts in the number of humans and animals slaughtered by by log trucks around the state and the rapidly diminishing birds and all wildlife in our forests.”

    Crazy stuff. Never run over one of gods creatures yourself unintentionally ?

    Which birds are diminishing ?

    How many humans have been slaughtered by log trucks since say, 1990 and how does that compare to other vehicle type fatalities after basic statistical analysis ?

    There are plenty of checks, what do you think Transport Tasmania inspectors do at highway weighbridges when all the unroadworthy and overloaded trucks pull in ?

    Why do truck owners bother having onboard scales with drivers actually using them to load up by ?

    Things may have changed a bit since the 1980’s

    As an ex-steerer and now environmental and social warrior, I would’ve thought you’d have come across such developments by now.

    Why not submit your dashcam footage to law enforcement in the matter of this continuous traffic law breaking by the log carters ?

    Simple fact is you have no evidence to back up any of your ravings which are entirely opinion based.

    All your posts follow a common theme of outlandish statements with no substance.

    That’s fine, suggest you just preface all your nonsense with “in my view” from now on.

    Re eagle management why haven’t you taken the TasNetworks advisor @ #4 to task over existing tower/pole/line infrastructure and their Threatened Bird Strategy which is clearly a band-aid solution to a problem they can’t control anyway ?

  9. Robin Charles Halton

    May 14, 2016 at 3:35 am

    #11 AK, could you name the coupes and locations on Tasmans Peninsula please, I am interested to know the more recent history of harvest on the Crown during my time there in 1971/72 there was no active harvesting apart from private land being harvested for regrowth pulpwood.

  10. Robin Charles Halton

    May 14, 2016 at 3:25 am

    #10 Eagle eyed, I have little knowledge of helicopter eagle nest spotting techniques but I do know of an instance of aerial fuel reduction burning using a helicopter for dropping incindaries during the late 1980’s while burning Two Plains near Mt Housetop an eagle from a nearby nest site swooped towards the helicopter.

    Obviously the pilot and bombadier withdrew to a safer distance to continue burning buttongrass on the adjoining plain.

    Today armed with full knowledge of eagle habitat such an action as burning during the nesting season would be out of the question.

    After the incident I contacted a forestry employee who had been associated with harvesting in the area for sawlogs as the area was a part of Hilders EFP, during the late 1950’s, the loggers at time had the respect to stay well clear of the nesting site.

    I was shown the actual nesting site well hidden in a large eucalypt of large girth on the eastern side of Two Plains.

    It was also pointed out to me the nest site was ideally located not being burnt during the 1960 Mt Housetop wildfires.

  11. A.K.

    May 13, 2016 at 11:02 am

    #12, during my life, one of the jobs I did was a log truck and skidder driver. It was when I realised the depth of devastation and decades long destruction clear fell and indiscriminate logging does, decided to get out the industry.That was back in the early 1980’s when it was clear back then, the insane approach would make the future very unstable for wildlife and humans.

    After more than 4 decades, those area’s are still bereft of much wildlife, simply because the insane practices of destroying the entire environment and follow up napalming of areas, destroys the ecological foot print. We see the results everywhere of what this insidiously destructive insanity does to the future.

    I have worked in forestry in NSW and Tas, in NSW they had inspectors checking load weights and measurements for every truck, so overloading was Not the common. In Tas, There are no checks and the majority of log trucks would be classed as roadworthy and overloaded.

    One only has to follow in the early morning log trucks coming of the Peninsula to see them exceeding all speed limits in towns and over 100klms on the open road and no trailer lights working. It is common to see these trucks approaching 120klms an hour exiting Dunnelly and swaying all over the road because they are to top heavy. Follow then about dawn, and you see the trail of roadkill they leave behind as they push their rigs to get more profits and bugger everything else.

    Folklore, lies, deception and old wives tales, are what the supporter of destructive forestry practices use to try to make delusion look real and the same goes for overhead power lines.

    The only reason they use overhead power lines, is to keep profit growth of the corporate world rising. Whilst bleeding the people of money and doing nothing to protect wildlife, or blackout proof energy supplies with underground cabling.

    You find all the facts in the number of humans and animals slaughtered by by log trucks around the state and the rapidly diminishing birds and all wildlife in our forests.

  12. MJF

    May 12, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    #12

    Speaking of lies and deceptions, any chance of some facts or should we continue with folklore and old wives tales ?

    BTW, surely not every truck was heavily overloaded and racing ?

  13. A.K.

    May 12, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Just love the apologetics of the supporters of environmental destruction, FT, do they really believe sensible people will accept FT actually looks after wildlife and especially eagles. Or is it just what you expect from those whose mind sets are firmly stuck in the dying past.

    Less than a decade ago, when it was decided to clear fell 3 areas on the Tasman peninsula, it was pointed out to those in control of the devastation, that there were big eagles nests in all the coupes.

    After having to put up with heavily overloaded trucks racing through local towns with their engine brakes screaming for weeks on end in the middle of the night, waking up everyone, they finally left leaving a devastated environment and damaged roads behind them. It was discovered all the nesting trees had been cut down and nothing was left.

    Before this tragic destruction, there were always eagles cruising round the Tasman, now there are almost none. It doesn’t matter how many excuses, lies and deceptions supporters of destruction make up, in the end its reality which wins and the future which loses. Sadly there are to many humans way past their evolutionary use by date in Tas, who continue to support the destruction of the future, purely for their self centered ignorance and pathetic greed.

    One viable eagle or other bird nest, is worth more to the future, than the entire management of Forestry Tasmania and electrical distribution, by light years.

  14. Eagle-eyed

    May 11, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    re #8. Wedgies sometimes attack light aircraft and helicopters. Robin, have any eagles been injured by a helicopter, when helicopters have been searching for them, or their nests?

  15. Robin Charles Halton

    May 11, 2016 at 2:26 am

    #7 Dave, re the Lapoinya nest site discovered after harvesting commenced, fortunately it was empty or abandoned? but there is little to suggest that the FPP was properly researched sufficiently by staff actually traversing the area, perhaps time was spendt looking at the ground surface for lobster habitat.

    I would have asked around the locals re bird life and nesting observations, perhaps the indifference that Bob Brown created with the locals in this WPZ immediately turned FT away from effective communication as the attention turned to commence roading and harvesting, getting on with the job.

    Well then were are the Lapoinya eagles nesting, somebody must know the history of past and present sightings, the locals cant be that dumb as they claim to be the local environmental champions!

    There is no doubt in my mind that eagles are a major raptor species under continuous threat mainly from the expansionist activities of Tas Networks with windfarms and associated power line extensions.

    Thanks to the champions of Renewable energy via windfarms, they know who they are dont they!

    Perhaps Windfarm investment delays associated with Granville Harbour and Cattle Hill at Lake Echo have much to do with encroaching on the eagles domains.

  16. Robin Charles Halton

    May 11, 2016 at 1:42 am

    #7 Dave, True FT have been prominent with eagle nest discoveries in the field, more recently using helicopter.

    I definitely located the second nest on a small Waratah coupe that North Forests were ready to log on FT land back in the late 1990’s.

    Extensive field work on foot alone with a dog, while running a coupe boundary on an awkward shaped coupe that in my opinion was hardly worth harvesting in the first place as the empty nest site distance 180 meters as I recollect, was marginally inside the road line access to the coupe.

    Speaking with locals at Waratah the eagles were seen around town scavanging on road kill as North at the time were converting extensive wildlife habitat to plantation on their land around the Fingerpost area, so were these eagles nesting?

    Out near the Coldstream according to weekend woodcutters working along the 4mile transmission line.

    So back to the search in earnest, late one hot afternoon after three days of research, Benji starting snuffling and whimpering neaby around the base of a huge Eucalypt, the signs were obvious, fresh bird droppings, looking up was a massive nest towering above us.

    We strolled down to the Little Knole Plain below and I realised that the second nest that was not very obvious during an earlier excursion was now evident.

    I reported back to FT’s Management the active nest had been found by the dog who pointed it out to me, from thereon a remote patch of eucalypt would remain as a refuge for the local eagles and their offspring.

    Question to NICK MOONEY: Are you aware of this site and if so how are the eagles faring given that there are Transmission Lines, the power supply for Savage River Mines, about 1.5 Km from the nesting site.

  17. Dave

    May 10, 2016 at 10:36 am

    RE:3 – in fact the logging industry and in particular FT are responsible for more eagle nest discoveries than any other person or organisation in this State.

    Yes they may miss one very occasionally as was documented with Lapoinya but we are all human after all and to expect that 100% of nests would be discovered may be unrealistic. FYI – I have personally discovered and recorded a few myself.

  18. +William Boeder

    May 10, 2016 at 2:49 am

    #3. John Hayward you are scarce wrong with your comment regarding Tasmanian State government Lib/Lab ministers.

    Add to that the number of the uncaring bogan attitude types rife across any number of Tasmania’s communities.

    Unfortunately the greater Tasmania itself seems doomed to perpetuate this oblivious lassitude held by that quantum of Tasmania’s embarrassingly stupid citizens.

    A.K. has delivered a more substantial observation in recognizing the accumulated realities we as a species will face and be held subject to by these masters of our decline.

    Tasmania has no worthy State government, what we do have in its place is a savage pecking order of predators that seem driven to exterminate all of that outside the confines of their privileged police-protected malodorous dunghill.

    How one State alone can stand head and shoulders above the other State’s and territories of what was once a unique magnificent country is now more often the case beholden to those uncaring bastards uttering ‘bugger you Jack I’m alright.’

    The weak minded ministers, (let’s change that to logger-minded ministers) common to Tasmania will not see this State continue in any other light.

    Tasmania with its forest burnings and (State wide 1080 poisonings) in recent times should be recognized for that which is the cause for identifying Tasmania as the reckless vandal State of Australia.

  19. Steve

    May 9, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    Interesting article. I’ve never really considered the potential for a heavy bird to cross phases.

    My biggest experience of eagle kill was the Eyre Highway, prior to RCD. At that stage the Nullarbor crossing was correctly dubbed the Fur Highway. The eagles were doing very well, but some were a bit slow to avoid the traffic.

  20. Ed Parker

    May 9, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for reporting this incident to TasNetworks.

    TasNetworks is deeply concerned about the incidences of threatened bird species that are impacted by our electrical assets. Each year a number of Tasmanian threatened bird species are killed by electrocution as result of flying into live conductors or perching on power poles.

    TasNetworks has a Threatened Bird Strategy in place that seeks to minimise our impact on birds in the most effective and strategic way.

    In addition to a program of work to mitigate higher risk existing assets, we are voluntarily offsetting some of our impact through partnerships with wildlife sanctuaries. We aim to build their capacity to rehabilitate birds of prey and where possible release them back to the wild.

    You can find an overview of our strategy on our website: http://www.tasnetworks.com.au/about-us/environment-and-sustainability/protecting-birdlife.

    Ed Parker – Principal Environment and Sustainability Advisor, TasNetworks

  21. john hayward

    May 9, 2016 at 12:12 am

    We have a logging industry that routinely overlooks eagle nests, and we still use 1080 poison on many of the species which eagles prey upon.

    We also habitually elect governments which make little effort to conceal their indifference to wildlife welfare.

    The Liberals have now embarked on a climate change policy to kill off H sapiens as well.

    John Hayward

  22. A.K.

    May 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Twenty years ago used to love watching wedge tails and seas eagles cruising round to skies near my place. Have seen 2 in the last 5 years, both were singular, when in the past there was normally two of them and the 3 eagle nests on my property have been empty the last 6 years and are falling apart.

    This is just another example pf the idiocy of the ideological human race, which consists of about 99% of humans and their deranged approach to the future. No matter what they say, when it boils down to it, it’s all about them and their deluded desires and beliefs. The majority will say how sad, then continue with their lives of destruction, whilst the world around them collapses and yet, all they can only see themselves in a fantasy future and not the real coming future.

    The extinction of the majority of wildlife in the air, seas and on land, will be completed by 2030. Which will probably signal the end of human life as well, simply because the ecological systems, environment and natural food chains will have been destroyed completely. That’s what happens when you wipe out your environment and destroy the backbone of it, natures ecological and food chain systems.

    Like all the problems we are facing, they are very easily overcome so we don’t lose our technology, lifestyle and living standards. But like all reasonable rational and logical approaches, they are dismissed so the clones can stick to their programming and not be disturbed by change and adaption, that will make them think and actually act. Rather than just compliant, babble excuse and blame others, whilst doing nothing, but more of the same.

    If we introduced local grids, all powered by solar, small wind and put our distributions lines in the ground we’d save millions a year and lots of wildlife. It’s the same with eagles being killed by poisoning, the fox task force and farming practices should be seen as the major contributing factor. By banning chemical fertilisers, overhead power lines and large wind generators, we would solve a lot of problems and be able to really market Tas as an organic producer. This would value add our exports to a huge degree economically, save our wildlife and environment, create more jobs and blackout proof communities round the state.

    What will happen, nothing just like every other problem rapidly bringing life to it’s knees, because of irresponsible approaches and the refusal of 97% of Tasmanians to step outside their delusional ideological comfort zones.

  23. Robert Middleton

    May 8, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Nick: Even though I am half-a-world away, the sad news of this precious animal’s death leaves me feeling overcome with grief and sadness. One of the most memorable experiences of my long life was rounding a curve on an isolated, winding Tasmanian road and suddenly seeing two wedge-tails feeding in the road right in front of me. I would have hit and killed both of them with my car if I had been traveling at “the speed limit.” Fortunately, I was driving slowly and was able to stop and admire them as they continued feeding for a few moments before taking flight. In my mind’s eye I can still see them there as vividly as if it were only yesterday, though that happened more than 20 years ago. It was the most precious gift I ever received.

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