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JEA teams with Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to save endangered storks

3:29 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- JEA, in partnership with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, is making a move to save juvenile wood storks from electrocution.

Wood storks began showing up at the zoo in 1999, using it as a breeding ground.

The zoo workers kept a watchful eye on their new neighbors by banding them for identification.

The honeymoon period ended when the zoo constructed a new overflow parking lot and retention pond. Construction workers cleared portions of trees, which hide exposed power lines.

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JEA teams with Jacksonville Zoo to save endangered storks

The juvenile wood storks would fly towards the retention pond unaware of the distribution line.

The birds' legs would clip the lines and they would be electrocuted.

"They're gangly when they fly, the little ones, and in addition if you don't see a power line out in the middle of the air because you're not expecting it, it's very easy to hit," said Donna Bear-Hull, Curator of Birds at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Zoo officials contacted JEA to find a solution. Engineers considered burying the distribution line, but quickly realized the process would take too long. So instead JEA developed flight diverters. 

"These are pretty simple devices," said Andrew Sears, JEA Senior Environmental Scientist. "They're like little dart boards with a reflector in the center of them. All that they do is they just make that line visible. You know, it's difficult for me to see that power line and certainly birds would have trouble spotting it."

The zoo decided to plant a heritage long leaf pine forest in a portion of the new parking lot using trees that were donated by a local garden club. Zoo officials say this also helped save the birds.

"Because it's much less open now, the birds are less attracted to the area. The combination of the trees and the diverters seemed to really do the trick," said Bob Chabot, Director of Horticulture and Facilities for the Jacksonville Zoo.

Wood storks are native to the Southeast. They come to Florida every winter to roost.

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