Harris Hawks electrocuted on Arroyo Road power line

By Curtis Riggs | July 16, 2008

APS investigating incident
CAVE CREEK – Twenty-one year resident Scott Boal became concerned last week when he saw two Harris Hawks injured while sitting on a booster box, which was recently installed on a power line on Arroyo Road.

dead hawkThe problem with the booster box is that birds are able to sit on it because it has no hood to prevent them from sitting there.

Boal said he heard a loud beep come from the box as he was walking by just before one of the birds fell off the box.

The body of a female Harris Hawk ended up lying dead on the ground by the power pole just under the Cox Communications cable booster box. The male Harris Hawk, which also could have received a good jolt, ran off into the desert and could not be found.

APS officials did an autopsy on the hawk that ended up under the booster box and determined it died from electrocution.

“There needs to be a shield on top of it,” Boal said.

boxPeggy Jelen, a section leader with APS’ Forestry and Special Programs Department, said the autopsy on the dead Harris Hawk showed evidence of electric shock. However, she said the shock did not come from a Cox Cable booster box because it was not “energized.” She added the poles and wires there appeared to be properly grounded.

“It may have happened elsewhere,” she said. The bird may have then flown to the Arroyo Road pole. “Sometimes when they get electric shock it doesn’t happen immediately.”

She explained birds can sit unharmed on active power lines but a large raptor can get electrocuted if one of his wings touches another live line while they are sitting on one.
An APS section leader has already looked at the pole, wires and box as the beginning of the investigation into the bird’s death. The section leader determined everything in the immediate area of the incident was properly grounded.

APS intends to have the pole and associated apparatus retrofitted with hoods, which prevent birds from sitting on them.

Jelen said she was glad Boal reported the incident to APS because the company has an on-going public education program about how wildlife can be harmed by electricity. APS works with Scottsdale-based Liberty Wildlife animal rescue organization to save birds that have become injured because of power poles or lines.

Photos caption: Longtime Cave Creek resident Scott Boal reported one of two Harris Hawks died after both were electrocuted by a cable booster box on an Arroyo Road power line. However, APS officials said the birds could not have been electrocuted by the booster box because it was not “energized.”

Photos by Curtis Riggs