Dozens of wild animals such as squirrels, sloths, monkeys, hammerheads, foxes and birds have electrical accidents every year due to their interaction with cables and transformers near their habitats. For this reason, a new regulation seeks to further define the responsibilities of the companies that install infrastructure. This is Decree 44,329-MINAE, which made official the instruments for the prevention and mitigation of this type of accidents.
Since 2018, the country took some steps in this matter. It is now determined that compliance with safety standards in favor of wildlife would have an impact on processes such as public tenders.
For example, entities such as the Regulatory Authority or Aresep are urged to take into account compliance with these measures in favor of wildlife for the granting or renewal of permits, licenses, patents, concessions and other procedures.
The National Environmental Technical Secretariat (Setena) is also required to include the adoption of safety indicators within the environmental impact assessments.
Another striking point is that the responsibility is placed on companies to guarantee the care of animals that become victims of accidents on their assets: The concessionaire companies of electrical generation, transmission or distribution will coordinate with other actors to establish mechanisms for the care of wildlife animals that survive electrocution with authorized Wildlife Rescue Centers.
The costs associated with these processes, including transfers, veterinary care, maintenance in case of permanent captivity, processes for rehabilitation and reintegration into the habitat. They must be agreed upon between the company, other actors and the management site that cares for injured or orphaned wild animals.
Article 14, decree 44.329-Minae
When the sloth was declared a national symbol, several policies had been requested for the preservation of animals, now the issue of electrical risks is specifically decreed
More careful with electricity
The decree covers other measures to take into account regarding electricity, especially to prevent impacts on the most vulnerable ecosystems.
Among others, they stand out:
Fragmentation of natural spaces must be prevented when installing electrical networks
Map the areas with the most accidents to generate impact actions
Take special care with endangered species, diminished populations, endemic species; or associated with environmentally fragile areas
In areas at risk of falling trees, underground wiring should be considered.
A danger in disrupted habitats
According to the National System of Conversation Areas, in 2022 alone the list of affected animals reached 117 deaths, a figure that increased compared to previous years.
The director of the Veterinary Hospital of the National University (UNA), Mauricio Jiménez, explained that the records usually appear in more rural areas. In these there are still forest patches that end up intervened or cut, which leaves the animals without natural bridges.
Previously, companies have already been taking measures to prevent incidents, for example:
Installation of anti-climbing devices so that animals cannot climb the cables.
Use of electrostatics in porcelain insulators.
Insulators for transformers both in the electrical network and for equipment within conventional substations.
Installation of transformers with dielectric paint that insulates 12,000 volts, to avoid electrocution of birds that nest in the lids.
Placement of steps for arboreal fauna in vulnerable areas, as a complementary measure to barrier-type and insulating-type devices.