Montana powerline down, had lethal juice in it for several months-

A snag fell across the line, bringing it the ground.

Downed power line near Eureka electrocutes more than a dozen animals. AP in the Missoulian

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

10 Responses to Downed powerline electrocutes deer, wolf, other animals

  1. Mike says:

    That is just sad.

  2. Save bears says:

    Sad and bizarre, I have never ever heard of a situation like this, and apparently neither has the power company that owns the line!

  3. Nathan Hobbs says:

    how does something like this go undetected?
    Wouldn’t the power company notice a increase in resistance along the line, decrease in power on the other side. or something?

    Surely they can measures the expected current along the miles of wire and detect abnormalities?

  4. Save bears says:


    I am sure in many parts of remote areas, variances are pretty normal, and the amount of time it would take to kill an animal or a human for that matter would be just a little blip on the scale..

  5. ProWolf in WY says:

    How did the power company not know there was a downed line for several months?

  6. Layton says:

    Just FWIW, the line evidently wasn’t completely “down”. If it would have been there would have been just a big short to ground and the nearest transformer probably would have blown and the power company would have known immediately.

    In this case it seems like the power line was most likely close to the ground and not on it. When an animal came by and touched the wire, it would short it to an earth ground just long enough to kill the critter and when it dropped off the wire, no more short, no more abnormality on the line.

  7. Save bears says:

    A power line is only “Down” when it touches ground, this was a looped wire, that did not touch ground and hence it was not reported or found until such time as it was really down, the power was still flowing with no real interruption in power..

  8. Lynn Watters says:

    Unfortunately, this is just another example of Man’s encroachment on wild life and the environment. I know power lines are everywhere, but it seems there should be some checks an balances that can monitor the possibility of an occurrence such as this. What a pity.

  9. Kathie Kresha says:

    My brother was the lineman who hiked up there in the dark and the snow at 1 degree F and found it and fixed it at 4:00 am. This is not on your normal bucket truck route, a four wheeler wouldn’t even make it there in the rocks. Equipment had to be carried from the truck to fix it all the while keeping an eye out in the dark for more wild animals comming to feed on the carcasses. It was just a freak thing that the line was only a few feet from the ground and no hunters or hikers walked into it.

    • Kathie Kresha,

      Thank you for giving us such a personal closeup of what happened and how it was fixed. Thanks to your brother for the hard work fixing the dangerous thing.


October 2009


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey