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Copperheads, rattlesnakes, rats and rodents can turn pad-mount transformers into cozy den.


“Electric co-ops can minimize outages without injuring animals. Guards can be installed easily without de-energizing the circuit,” notes Jim Stanley, a product marketing manager in 3M’s Electrical Markets Division.


Alternatives such as the Rauckman Wildlife Shield™ and ZAPShield™ create a barrier to keep teething squirrels, rodents, snakes, and other animals away from dangerous parts of electrical infrastructure. Frisbee-sized plastic or metal discs guard equipment in substations, too.


Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, the power supplier for CEC, has installed 19 wildlife guards on its substations. In CEC territory, the snake-proof fences protect Garvin, West Bank and Frogville substations where snakes have been a particular problem.


Animal guards are not foolproof, but the measures help drive down the number of outages caused by animals. Another option is building habitats to help animals and power safely co-exist.


Eagles and other birds of prey are attracted to utility poles as perches, and often build nests there—a dangerous spot. An eagles nearly five-foot wingspan can form a conduit between an energized power line and a neutral wire. Like squirrels, these birds may get hurt as high-voltage electricity looks for a path to the ground.


Western Farmer’s Electric Cooperative crews install wildlife fence guards at a southeast Oklahoma substation.


Some electric distribution cooperatives and generation and transmission co-ops encourage birds to settle on man-made nest platforms. The utility removes a dormant nest from electrical equipment and places the nesting material on a nearby raised platform, as tall or taller than the utility pole. When the birds return to the area the next season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claims odds are good they’ll use the safer structure.


By giving raptors a nesting alternative, and much safer place to perch, electric co-ops are reducing the number of bird-related outages and protecting lines, too. ■


Megan McKoy-Noe writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. B. Denise Hawkins contributed to this story.


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