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Potentially Shocking

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Rodney Pierson

on 14 April 2011

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Transcript of Potentially Shocking

Potentially Shocking
Read the following newspaper article and answer the questions that follow
Four bald eagles and a pelican in search of a perch were electrocuted when they landed atop 2 power poles and were jolted with 13,000 volts of electricity. Now utility and game officials are taking steps to ensure no more of the regal birds are injured. The poles, located beside the 21,000 acre DuPuis Wildlife and Recreation Area southwest of Stuart, now have a safety platform and the wires were moved below the crossbar.
It’s not known exactly how the eagles came in contact with the electrical wires. It could have happened when an eagle’s 6- to 8-foot wing span touched a wire carrying a current while the other wing touched the pole’s (grounded) metal crossbar, thus becoming a conduit for electricity. Or the eagle could have stepped on a hot wire with one foot and the metal crossbar with the other. Electrocution is “one of the major causes of death” for ospreys and bald eagles.
From “Four bald eagles, pelican electrocuted on poles” from The Palm Beach Post, 1998.
Questions on Article
1) Why is it dangerous to have power poles located next to a wildlife area?
2) Why would an eagle be electrocuted when touching a “hot” wire and the metal crossbar at the same time?
3) We frequently see smaller birds perched on a power line. Why aren’t they electrocuted?
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