As the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) works to re-establish a self-sustaining population of Whooping Cranes, one of the obstacles to success is the birds inadvertently hitting power lines. Power lines are much more prevalent on the landscape than they were 70 years ago when Whooping Cranes last lived in Louisiana and a number of the reintroduced birds have died in collisions with them.
But SLEMCO, a southwest Louisiana power company based in Lafayette, has come to the aid of Whooping Cranes. Last fall, SLEMCO placed visible markers with florescent reflective and long lasting glow tape on a two-mile stretch of power lines on the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) where many of the cranes live and spend time. Three cranes have died in collisions with those particular lines so it was determined to be a high-risk line and a high priority to mark.
“We approached SLEMCO about this particular stretch of line and they were very receptive and interested in working to make this area safer for the cranes,’’ said Sara Zimorski, an LDWF biologist who works on the Whooping Crane project. “We fully understand that power lines are everywhere and they can’t all be marked but this is an area where several cranes have died and one that continues to be used by a number of cranes. SLEMCO understood and went to work to assist us.’’
“SLEMCO appreciates the natural resources our state has to offer,” said Mary Laurent, Communications Coordinator for SLEMCO. “Our employees are from here. We all appreciate the importance of wildlife to Louisiana’s natural habitat and ecosystems. We were happy to do our part to help protect the Whooping Crane population.”
“Mortality of Whooping Cranes is, obviously, something we need to keep as low as possible as we work to return the birds to our state,’’ LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said. “We’re so pleased that SLEMCO stepped up to provide and place the markers on the lines. Thanks to their help, and all of our partners, we’re confident that Whooping Cranes will again flourish in our state as they once did.’’
SLEMCO is one of several partners joining with LDWF in bringing back Whooping Cranes. In addition to SLEMCO, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, Audubon Nature Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Cameron LNG and Coypu Foundation have offered generous support to the project.
SLEMCO is a rural electric cooperative providing power to over 109,000 homes and businesses in Acadia, Avoyelles, Evangeline, Iberia, St. Landry, St. Martin and Vermilion Parishes.
To contribute to the Whooping Crane project, please contact the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation at www.lawff.org.