Bird Electrocutions Could Be Causing Wildfires

Wildfires occur for many reasons but one study suggests that avian electrocutions are one of the more poorly studied causes.

A bird electrocuted by a utility pole can ignite and set fire to dry vegetation. This happened 44 times in a five-year period, new research suggests.

Researchers found that the Mediterranean ecoregion of California had the highest density of wildfires caused by electrocuted birds.

The researchers suggested mitigation tactics including modified power lines that could lower the possibility of avian electrocutions.

PG&E said it is addressing the problem. Since 2002, it has retrofitted 28,000 utility poles to be “bird safe.”

The utility said it also works to educate its employees to ensure they comply with all federal and state bird protection laws.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, an average 70,072 wildfires have burned an average of 7 million acres every year since 2000.

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