Print  RSS 
Jan 22

Brett Moss
1/22/2014 1:12:00 PM 

Radio tower owners are familiar with the "controversy" over dead birds. How, why some birds get killed around broadcast towers is sort of a mystery. Lights hypnotize them, they inexplicably crash into the towers, whatever. End result is dead birdies.

A few sparrows, some annoying mockingbirds, nobody’s happy but ... things happen. When a few hawks or eagles end up at the foot of the tower, well, people begin to take notice. The tower owners start finding themselves in the crosshairs. Select animal groups begin to squawk about endangered species. Others start talking about legislation.

(BTW, don't pick up or collect any of those eagle feathers, you could be fined ... well, let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explains, “Anyone who possesses an eagle feather, and doesn't meet the requirements, could face fines up to $100,000 and a year in prison. A second offense is upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony, and carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The act also provides for a civil penalty of up to $5,000.” FYI, picking up a feather from an eagle that crashed into a tower does not “meet the requirements.” Leave it to rot.)

Our industry is not heartless, however. It doesn't enjoy permanently grounding our flight-loving friends. The NAB works with the Avian Conservation Group to mitigate bird deaths and it also works with the FCC on lighting. Are birds really being hypnotized by the red lights?

The tower erectors industry group, NATE, is also aware of the issue. Executive Director Todd Schlekeway told me, “The FCC was required by a federal district court to conduct a study on the effect that future tower builds will have on migratory birds. Of particular importance is a study cited by the agency that found that buildings, power lines and cats were the three largest causes of avian mortality, responsible for over 80% of deaths. Put another way, bird deaths attributed to those three sources were 165 times greater than the percentage of avian mortality attributed to towers.”

But NATE is also aware of the public relations ramifications if Tweety Bird, Woodstock or the Bluebird of Happiness are cracking their skulls on a large, menacing, cold metal broadcast tower.

Schlekeway notes that NATE, NAB, along with CTIA and others have formed an Infrastructure Coalition to address these issues. He says, “Right now, as a result of fairly lengthy negotiations between the Infrastructure Coalition and various environmental organizations, there is relative peace on the migratory bird front. This is an issue we will continue to monitor and keep close tabs on moving forward.”

Other industries, such as the oil and gas extraction industry, have found themselves receiving attention about ex-birds found near their facilities.

All of which leads me to this, quietly late last year, the U.S. Interior Dept., the one that could prosecute you for holding that eagle feather, gave a waiver to the wind energy industry for its mounting toll on birds, including the large number of Bald and Golden Eagles that seem to be meeting unfortunate accidents at the hands of energy-generating windmills.

Needless to say, a flock of bird groups flew into a rage. Robert Bryce has more on this here, noting that the windmills take more than their share of the larger, federally-protected, predatory avians.

That birds would collide with windmills should not be surprising. After all, both seek the wind. Birds are lazy and want to make their flight easier by coasting on the breeze while the windmill needs that steady breeze to operate. Supporters of wind energy must acknowledge that there will always be a tradeoff — until a miracle technology comes along to solve the problem.

The Interior Dept. recognizes this, yet less-politically-favored players, such as broadcast tower owners, find themselves under scrutiny. It’s not as if the towers try to attract birds or are placed where they could do the most damage.

Remember that next time that towers are portrayed as the equivalent of enormous, metallic cats, owned by cruel, murderous, uncaring corporations.

Comments

Thank you for your comment. Please note that posts are reviewed for suitability and may not appear until the next business day.

Archive

August 2016 (6)
July 2016 (5)
June 2016 (3)
May 2016 (4)
April 2016 (3)
March 2016 (6)
February 2016 (4)
January 2016 (6)
December 2015 (7)
November 2015 (6)
October 2015 (11)
September 2015 (7)
August 2015 (8)
July 2015 (10)
June 2015 (14)
May 2015 (5)
April 2015 (6)
March 2015 (6)
February 2015 (4)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (7)
November 2014 (6)
October 2014 (10)
September 2014 (11)
August 2014 (14)
July 2014 (4)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (5)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (6)
February 2014 (7)
January 2014 (8)
December 2013 (9)
November 2013 (11)
October 2013 (9)
September 2013 (6)
August 2013 (5)
July 2013 (1)
June 2013 (4)
May 2013 (3)
April 2013 (2)
March 2013 (8)
February 2013 (8)
January 2013 (7)
December 2012 (3)
November 2012 (4)
October 2012 (7)
September 2012 (10)
August 2012 (4)
July 2012 (7)
June 2012 (4)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (10)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (6)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (5)
October 2011 (8)
September 2011 (9)
August 2011 (10)
July 2011 (6)
June 2011 (5)
May 2011 (7)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (9)
February 2011 (6)
January 2011 (7)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (3)
October 2010 (6)
September 2010 (10)
August 2010 (8)
July 2010 (7)
June 2010 (5)
May 2010 (5)
April 2010 (11)
March 2010 (7)
February 2010 (5)
January 2010 (4)
December 2009 (2)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (5)
September 2009 (6)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (3)
June 2009 (15)
May 2009 (8)
April 2009 (6)
March 2009 (2)
February 2009 (2)
January 2009 (1)
December 2008 (5)