Wildlife protection efforts

Karner Blue Butterfly


The Karner blue butterfly is a federally endangered species. It has a high regard for the open sunny areas and sandy soils found on land near ײƵ equipment throughout central Wisconsin.

That's because those conditions encourage the growth of wild lupine, the sole food source for the Karner blue’s larvae. An adult butterfly is about the size of a postage stamp, so they aren’t equipped to fly far to find new homes or food sources.

As a partner in the  for the Karner blue butterfly, we are actively supporting a suitable habitat for the butterfly on the land we manage.

The agreement allows Wisconsin landowners, like ײƵ, to continue operating in and around Karner blue butterfly habitat, provided that we modify our activities to minimize “incidental take” (death, harm or harassment) of the endangered butterfly.

Our employees conduct wild lupine and butterfly surveys each year. They focus on areas where line clearance or construction projects are scheduled. Training prepares our field crews to protect butterfly habitat by minimizing activities that might have an adverse impact.

In areas where wild lupine is established, we make every effort to limit our field activities during the Karner blue’s flight season and to have minimal impact to wild lupine plants.

Osprey Nests


Our crews take great care to move osprey nests found in dangerous locations and provide alternate nesting sites for these birds.

Ospreys tend to build their nests near water on the highest perch they can find. In some cases, the highest perch will be transmission or distribution poles.

This is a dangerous situation for both the ospreys and our customers. If ospreys spread their wings while perched on the nest, there is great potential for the wings to create a “hot” connection between the electrical wires. This could result in the electrocution of the osprey, as well as power outages.

We install platforms near electric poles where nests are found. Platforms are typically erected on old, retired utility poles. Crews set the pole with the platform attached. Then they “seed” the platform with some of the old nesting material to lure the osprey to the platform and away from the utility pole.

Once nesting season is over and the birds have left, our crews remove osprey nests to prevent birds from reusing the nest next season. If eggs are found, we work with trained DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service personnel so no harm comes to the eggs.

Careful consideration must be taken when attempting to remove a nest from the pole. Before beginning nest removal, power lines must be de-energized so that employees have safe working conditions.

To encourage ospreys not to nest on utility poles, we may also install diverters. Diverters are pieces of equipment that make it difficult for the birds to build a nest on the utility pole.

 

Peregrine Falcons


Peregrine falcons were nearly extinct in the Midwest a decade ago. The falcons themselves have no real predators, but their eggs are targeted by animals, such as raccoons.

As part of the , we have placed nesting boxes high on the stacks of several of our generating stations. High above the ground, the falcons’ eggs have the greatest chance of hatching.

More than 1,000 young falcons have hatched at facilities along the Mississippi River and its tributaries since the start of the Peregrine Utility Program in 1988.

Sturgeon


Since 1997, we have been part of an effort to increase the survival rate of lake sturgeon in the Wisconsin River.

Lake sturgeon is an ancient, mammoth fish species sometimes referred to as “living fossils” or the “living dinosaurs” of the fish world. They typically grow to be three to five feet in length and can reach up to 80 pounds.

The fish spawn every four to six years throughout their 50- to 100-year lifespan. Due to their slow reproductive cycle, lake sturgeon are vulnerable to overfishing, pollution and habitat degradation.

As a result, their numbers have greatly reduced over the past century. The lake sturgeon has been designated as a “species of concern” in Wisconsin.

How we are helping

Every year in April or May, when the river’s water temperature reaches the ideal spawning temperature, our employees at the Kilbourn Dam near Wisconsin Dells, Wis. help position 900-gallon water tanks on the dam platform.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) personnel place up to three dozen sturgeon in the tanks, where they remain for three days. Eggs are taken from the females and sperm from the males. Both are combined in the same tank for fertilization.

Once the 100,000 to 300,000 eggs are fertilized, the sturgeon are placed back in the Wisconsin River. Some are tagged to track their future movement and progress.

The WDNR takes the eggs to the State Fish Hatchery in Wild Rose, Wis. The eggs hatch in around eight days. In September, the young sturgeon are released into the Wisconsin River with the hope that they will reproduce in about 25 years.

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