Downed power lines create wildlife kill zone

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MPR file photo

Linemen for North Star Electric Cooperative found a grisly scene recently while troubleshooting a power outage in northwest Minnesota, where power lines run through some very remote and difficult terrain.

In a three-mile stretch of power lines through a bog south of Baudette, they found the high water had softened the ground so two power poles tipped, leaving a high voltage line about two feet above the ground. When crews arrived they found a bear on the power line.

It had been electrocuted and tripped a breaker, North Star General Manager Dan Hoskins said.

Beaver dams had flooded the area, so linemen had to walk and boat in to the area. But the bear wasn’t the only animal they found.

There were critters laying everywhere. Hoskins didn’t have an exact count, but several bear, deer and wolves had been electrocuted.

Hoskins isn’t sure how long the line was down but he said it was last inspected about eight months ago. He called called it a very unusual situation.

The power line has been temporarily repaired but crews won’t be able to put in new power poles in the boggy area until the ground freezes this winter.

Hoskins said the wildlife fatalities have been reported to the state Department of Natural Resources.

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