A number of dead birds found near the base of a Bell Aliant cellular tower in Conception Bay South have both a resident and a councillor concerned.
Ward 3 councillor and C.B.S. candidate for the mayor’s chair Ken McDonald was out campaigning Thursday evening when a call came in from a resident who had been walking his dog near the cellular tower on Eason’s Road behind the Manuels River Interpretation Centre.
The resident said he had seen a number of large, dead birds near the tower.
“He was concerned, one, for the dog and secondly that this is above the Manuels River and everything runs towards there,” said McDonald. “He felt it might be something related to the tower or some seepage that’s coming from the water that’s trickling past it.”
McDonald met with The Telegram at the site Friday morning.
There were at least a half dozen bird carcasses — what appeared to be crows and ravens, which belong to a group called the corvids.
The birds were decayed, with the bones showing, and feathers surrounded the carcasses.
There is a fence around the tower, and the dead birds were just outside of it, about 50 feet from the base of the tower. They were all within about 10 metres of each other. No other dead birds could be found in other areas surrounding the tower.
There was also no immediate signs of the birds being shot — no empty shotgun shells or birdshot from the shells around the dead birds.
McDonald said he doesn’t think they were shot, because somebody in the area would have reported the gunshots. There is a cow farm close by.
Ian Jones, an ornithologist at Memorial University, said certain birds are susceptible to hitting guide wires on towers. Some structures have lights that can attract the birds at night, when they have less chance of detecting the wires.
However, there are no guide wires on the tower where the birds were found, and Jones said corvids such as crows and ravens aren’t generally active at night.
Jones also said he could only speculate as to what might have killed the birds, but electrocution could be a possibility. He said that when birds defecate on structures that have active electricity running through them, their waste is a conductor of electricity and can increase the possibility of their being electrocuted.
Jones added further investigation should be done.
“The carcasses should be collected and the area monitored for further bird mortality.”
The were a large numbers of crows and ravens in the area Friday morning, suggesting there could be a roosting site in the area. A couple of ravens also landed on the cellular tower while The Telegram was there.
Bell Aliant was contacted about the dead birds. By press deadline, officials had emailed to say they would investigate, but did not answer any followup questions.
The Department of Environment and Conservation was also contacted, but did not return The Telegram’s call as of deadline.