Wildlife Caused
Outage Issue

Problem Species and the Consequences

The Wildlife Caused Outage Issue

Problem Species and the Consequences

There is a significant issue with wildlife caused outages around the world. In North America, it is estimated that up to 20% of all power outages are animal and bird caused. Some Reliaguard customers have advised that up to 40% of their power outages are wildlife caused. These numbers are astonishing when you consider that solutions exist to prevent these types of outages.

There are government regulations regarding the “takes” of protected and endangered species and there can be significant fines associated with these regulations.

An example of fines that exist include the migratory and endangered species acts.


How Outages Occur

  • Up to 1 in 5 (20%) of all power outages are caused by wildlife
  • Wildlife cause electric power outages when they touch one energized contact point and one grounded contact point – causing a short circuit


Wildlife Outages are a Daily Occurrence BUT Don’t have to be

“Frankly, the number one threat experienced to date by the U.S. electrical grid is squirrels."

— John Inglis, Former Deputy Director, National Security Administration (7/9/2015)

Consequences of an Animal-Caused Outage

Outage Risks are Real and have Consequences

What an OUtage can cost you

In estimating the potential consequences of an animal-caused outage and the resulting costs, both monetary and non-monetary, the following factors should be considered:
  • equipment damage costs
  • the cost of employee time for making repairs
  • loss of revenue, based on outage duration information
  • fines or other consequences related to injury or fatality to protected species
  • customer relations
Given the range of potential consequences and the costs, the seriousness of each scenario should be ranked by a utility whereby ranking factors may include:
  • projected frequency of the outages
  • customers who will be affected, and the nature of the effects
  • critical load considerations
  • possible media attention or unfavorable public reaction
  • influence on utility reliability statistics, which could affect return and internal targets

Up to 20% of all power outages are animal and bird caused

Non-disaster U.S. power outages are up 124% since the early ‘90s

$18-$30 billion annual lost economy, in the US, due to wildlife caused outages


Based on IEEE 1264™-2015, utilities were polled and the following results represent the percentage of utilities that responded to the affirmative that they had experienced issues with the following species:

90 %
46 %
86 %
43 %
57 %
30 %

Help is Available


APLIC, the Avian Power Line Interactive Committee, works to guide utilities on the need to protect bird species from electrocution on the powerline.  Many utilities work with this Committee to educate and improve upon wildlife caused outages. APLIC has developed guidance documents identifying causes and minimization methods for avian electrocutions and collisions, and released national Avian Protection Plan Guidelines in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2005.