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Ameren MO works to protect migrating swans

(U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
The yellow spirals make power lines more visible to migrating birds.

By St. Louis Public Radio

ST. LOUIS – On Monday, workers began installing devices to keep migrating swans away from high-voltage power lines in the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, near West Alton.

In previous years, migrating trumpeter swans flew into the lines and were killed or injured. Nearly 500 trumpeter swans stay in the sanctuary from November through March.

Tim Santel of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the birds couldn't avoid the lines once they were close enough to see them.

"We're talking about a bird with a seven-foot wingspan," Santel said. "They probably weigh close to 30, 35 pounds. They're big and majestic and when they lift off they just don't maneuver as quickly as maybe a smaller bird would."

With the support of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, Ameren Missouri added foot-long yellow spirals to the lines to increase visibility.

The installation, however, posed its own challenges, according to Tim Fox of Ameren Missouri.

"We actually have workers from helicopters who are hovering between 75 and 150 feet off the ground," Fox said. "The worker takes the device and places it on the non-energized line at the top of the tower."

The devices should be in place by Wednesday afternoon.


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