A precarious perch
Nesting ravens must pick their spots with care

by Ian Elliot
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Apr 24/98) - It's raven nesting season once again. But even though ravens are a protected species in the North that doesn't protect them from having their nests taken down if they build them in the wrong places.

Several nests have sprouted in wires or on the sides of buildings in Inuvik this spring. The bad news for the birds is if they present a danger to the ravens or the wires, they will be taken down.

"If it's on the side of a building, we would tend to take it down," said Pun Chu, manager of the NWT Power Corporation in Inuvik.

"Our concern is for the electrocution of the birds or for the power supply."

Ravens, with their large wingspans and habit of perching in wires, are more than capable of shorting out a power system at the cost of their own lives and in fact, the city of Yellowknife was blacked out on three separate occasions in the fall when birds became entangled in the wires while the system there was being upgraded.

Electrocuted ravens are familiar sights around high-voltage towers and electric substations in the North use machines that create electronic chirping sounds to frighten them away.

In the case of an endangered species, rather than a protected one, the power corporation has to take some extra measures, Chu noted.

"With osprey, which are endangered, we will set another pole away from the power line with a platform on top and move the nest over to it," he said.

"For ravens, it's not the same. Ravens are a protected species but they're not endangered."

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