Wildlife Protection


Here is a family of Cooper's Hawks taking advantage of a human-made cavity for nesting.

PNM takes its commitment to the environment and efforts to protect New Mexico's wildlife seriously. To deal with the problem of electricity-related bird deaths and outages caused by birds coming into contact with equipment, we at PNM created our Avian Protection Program in 2006. Efforts to bird guard PNM equipment and install avian safe structures have paid off. PNM offers educational programs and installs habitats on power poles to help in that effort.

Avian protection in action: PNM installed bird guarding on a transmission line in Tijeras, N.M. Prior to the bird guarding, there were 78 bird or animal-related incidents over several years. After bird guarding was put in place, the number of incidents was reduced to only two the following year. 

More than 5,000 poles have been bird guarded since 2010. Since 2014, PNM has spent more than $9 million to make distribution poles avian safe. The cost to bird guard a structure is dependent upon the location, the necessity to plan an outage to bird guard, the aerial equipment located on the pole, and the pole configuration. 

The PNM Avian Protection Program focuses on several key areas including:

  • Identifying high risk electric structures for bird deaths and proactively bird guarding these facilities through best practices ranging from covering exposed wires and equipment bushings to covering conductors where spacing is inadequate.
  • Making bird guarding a part of routine electric facility maintenance.
  • Designing and constructing all new lines and other facilities with avian protection in mind.
  • Using a Geographical Information System reporting system to track bird mortalities on the PNM electric system and automatically generating bird guarding work orders.
  • Implementing "Hot Wings" that focuses on the use of avian safe structures in the most sensitive avian areas such as along the Rio Grande and all rural areas.
  • Implementing mandatory avian protection training every two years for PNM transmission and distribution employees.

PNM is the founder and ongoing sponsor of the New Mexico Avian Protection Working Group, in conjunction with Hawks Aloft, New Mexico Game and Fish, the Rural Utility Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The group trains co-ops and other energy companies throughout the Southwest region on avian protection best practices. 

PNM is a charter member of the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC), a national organization of utility industry biologists and standards engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. APLIC has developed and published Suggested Practices for Avian Protection on Power Lines, which reflects the state-of-the-art practices used in avian protection.  

Avian protection efforts have co-benefits in the protection of terrestrial species, as well. Cover-up material can protect ground species such as squirrels, raccoons and rabbits from electrocution.