'Flying Deer' Knocks Out Montana Power Line (Maybe)

On today's episode of "Amazing Animal Feats," a deer fawn that knocked out power in Montana. Her carcass was retrieved from a power line, up in the air. But how did she get up there?
The amazing feat here may be how much a bald eagle can lift, rather than the ability of a deer to fly. Sorry Santa. As highlighted by Field & Stream, the usual animal culprits (victims?) of power line outages are birds and squirrels, maybe a cat. In this case, a huge bald eagle apparently grabbed a fawn, as prey, then dropped it on the line. The eagle was unable to retrieve the fawn from the line. Lucky for the eagle. Unlucky for the fawn.


Photo by Waldo Jaquith

According to KECI TV in Montana, the power went out around 9 a.m., and a resident, Lee Bridges, was out taking pictures of an eagle perched in a tree.

That's when a Northwestern Energy worker showed up, and spotted the dead fawn, hanging from a wire. The "eagle dropped its prey" theory comes from the resident/photographer. The energy lineman said he'd never seen anything like it. Have you? Yahoo News has a bit more on the "flying deer," including that it was just days old, and the power company agrees with Bridges' theory.

The TV station has posted a gallery of dangling deer photos for study. Commenters at Field & Stream surmise that the fawn must have hit two lines, to complete a circuit, because she wasn't grounded. That's similar to what happens to birds when they stretch out their wings. Or at least the fawn must have bounced enough to knock out the power. Or maybe it was just a coincidence that the power went out just before the fawn was found. Or maybe it was a golden eagle?

Which brings us to at least one more question. How much can a bald eagle lift? You may have seen the purported "Eagle Hunts a Mountain Goat" video, showing a golden eagle.

According to eagle expert Peter Nye, a bald eagle can lift half of its weight (or about 6-7 pounds), but sometimes they pick up more than they can carry. The golden eagle? It's not quite as large as a bald eagle, Cornell says. But there's nothing about its lifting abilities.

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Tags: Birds | Energy | Montana