A farmer north of Ballan says he fears for the future of Wedge Tailed Eagles that nest on his property if a 500kV electrical transmission line is erected overhead.

Gerald ‘Arch’ Conroy said his family had farmed in Stonehut Lane, Bunding for 120 years and the species had always lived on his 11ha property.

“They’ve been here for as along as I can remember and there is a tree on my property where they nest each year,” he said.

“They have a range of 50 sq km but they always come back here to raise their young.”

He has named one of the eagles ‘Mondo’ after a company involved in the Western Victoria Transmission Network project, which is due to be built between Sydnenham and Bulgana in 2022-2025.

Mondo’s mate and two offspring spent an extended period near the nest last year (main image) due to the drought.

Mondo and friend, Bunding 2019. Image: Arch Conroy

“I’ve seen them fly incredibly high – hundreds of metres up – then they see a rabbit and dive-bomb it at high speed.

“What worries me is that eagles get caught in powerlines doing this. All they focus on is the prey, not the lines.

“Cars and transmission lines are the number-one killers of Wedge Tailed Eagles.”

Mondo, his mate and their two eaglets, born at Bunding in 2019. Image: Arch Conroy

Mr Conroy said while he had received a letter about the proposed transmission lines, neighbours on either side had not.

He also expressed concerns about the future of a private wildlife corridor which backs onto the Werribee River.

“We put in 30-40,000 trees a few years ago – all of them from locally-sourced seed – and fenced them off.

“It’s a haven for frogs; a habitat for platypus; it’s the only recorded place in Ballan with wombats – and there are about 50 kangaroos.”

“We’ve had naturalist groups come up here just to take photos.

“But the eagles: they’re special, they’re unique, they’re magnificent.

“Not everyone has them (on their land) – and once they nest, you just leave them alone or you risk them just leaving their eggs and not coming back.

“We give them space and they’re happy to stay.”

Mr Conroy has made several submissions to the transmission network project – mainly based on local flora and fauna.

All up, locals have pin-pointed almost 900 places of interest on the project website

“If you live in Melbourne and buy a house near big electrical powerlines, it’s a choice,” he said.

“In our situation, we don’t have a choice.

“You can’t grow anything under them or do anything that’s seen as a fire risk.”

Project organisers say the 190km powerline route has not been finalized and community consultation will be ongoing.

## Ausnet Services and Mondo will hold a second online community engagement from 6pm tomorrow (Tuesday July 7).

Go to https://www.westvictnp.com.au/get-involved/ to find the Zoom link.

RELATED STORY: MP in Ballan Thursday to hear about powerlines

RELATED STORY: Thursday info session for new Moorabool powerline action group

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Wedge Tailed Eagle presentation, Kangaroo Island SA

1 COMMENT

  1. We are not unique in this phenomenon in Australia.
    It is interesting to note that bird deaths resulting from collision with overhead transmission lines have been reported for over 100 years (Coues 1876, Cohen 1896, Emerson 1904) and it is estimated that 30-45% of bird collisions with power lines result in death.
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2002) estimated up to 174 million bird deaths annually in the U.S. from collisions with overhead transmission lines, which is greater than the number of bird deaths from hunting.
    Some interesting legal precedents have also been set, and if I was responsible for installing overhead high voltage transmission lines…. I would be scared.
    In 1999, the Moon Lake Electric Association in western Colorado and eastern Utah was criminally charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act for bird mortalities caused by power line and tower strikes, and from electrocutions (Manville 2005). The utility company pleaded guilty, paid a $100,000 fine, and promised to implement a bird protection plan. Similar fines were paid by electric utility companies in other cases.

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