Deer dropped by eagle knocks out power in Montana

SALMON, Idaho Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:56pm EDT

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SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A deer fawn apparently dropped by a bald eagle onto a high-voltage line was behind a power outage this week in western Montana, a Northwestern Energy official said on Friday.

"It's a first-time thing," Northwestern spokeswoman Michelle Sullivan said. "A deer dangling on the line, that's never happened before."

Sullivan said linemen investigating the cause of the outage in a rural neighborhood of East Missoula couldn't believe their eyes when they found the carcass of the fawn draped over electric wires more than two stories high.

Workers blamed the eagle after homeowner Lee Bridges reported that one of the birds had spent 15 minutes perched in a spruce in her yard that morning just after the neighborhood lost electricity.

When Northwestern crews arrived, Bridges approached a repairman to learn what caused the outage.

"He pointed up to the sky and said, 'There's your problem -- a flying deer,'" said Bridges.

She said the eagle, one of a family nesting on the nearby Clark Fork River, had likely been plotting how to retrieve what remained of its prey.

Bridges collected her camera and began shooting pictures.

"I thought nobody was going to believe this," she said.

Bald eagles can have wingspans of nearly 8 feet and weigh up to 14 pounds. Accounts suggest the fawn was just days old, if that.

Northwestern's Sullivan said the outage lasted roughly half an hour and affected about 30 homes.

The regional company serves about 665,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Bohan)

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