Electrocution on power lines is one of many human-caused mortality factors that affect raptors. Cost-effective and relatively simple raptor-safe standards for power line modification and construction have been available for over 25 years. During the 1970s and early 1980s, electric industry efforts to reduce raptor electrocutions were very coordinated and proactive, but predictions about resolving the problem were overly optimistic. Today, raptors continue to be electrocuted, possibly in large numbers. The electrocution problem has not been resolved, partly because of the sheer number of potentially lethal power poles in use and partly because electrocution risks may be more pervasive and sometimes less conspicuous than once believed. Also, responses to the problem by individual utilities have not been uniform, and deregulation of the electric industry during the 1990s may have deflected attention from electrocution issues. To control raptor electrocutions in the future, the industry must increase information sharing and technology transfer, increase efforts to retrofit lethal power poles, and above all ensure that every new and replacement line constructed incorporates raptor-safe standards at all phases of development. Finally, responsibility for the electrocution problem must be shared. Federal, state, and local governments, academic institutions, the conservation community, and the consumer all can play critical roles in an effort that will, by necessity, extend well into the new century.
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Raptor electrocution on power lines: Current issues and outlook