The Solisko Expres chairlift has been equipped with 120 patented bird diverters developed by a Swedish producer in cooperation with ornithologists. The fixed or dynamic FireFly protection elements use sun reflectors and UV absorption to warn birds about obstacles in their flight paths. The effectiveness of the dynamic elements is increased by rotation depending on the wind speed. “As the Solisko chairlift is the only ropeway transport system in the High Tatras whose supporting pillars are linked by a loose aerial communication cable and such protection solution can be used on this type of pillars, we have decided to do it there at first,” informed Peter Tomko from the Štrbské Pleso resort.
However, the protection elements cannot be attached to newer ropeway types with no static ropes. As the bird protection system cannot be used with moving cables and attached cars, a new rope has to be added. “Technology of this kind was not requested when the ropeways were built. That is why the ropeway supplier has to design extra installation to add the new rope to the safety system so that the operation stops immediately if the rope gets torn not to endanger the safety of passengers. The producer has been asked to calculate all necessary parameters to install a new rope so that it does not endanger the operation safety. The safety assessment should be approved by the Transport Authority of the Slovak Republic at the end. Only after all this is done, a rope with reflectors can be installed,” informed Dušan Slavkovský, the general manager of the Vysoké Tatry mountain resort.
Until then, the Vysoké Tatry mountain resort plans a unique experimental project – testing a special UVA lighting system to create a safe flight corridor for birds including capercaillies near a ropeway. It will be introduced on the Štart – Skalnaté Pleso section in the Tatranská Lomnica resort in the coming weeks.
The ropeway operator has been asked by the environmental department of the District Council in Poprad to suggest how to avoid collisions of birds with ropeway cables after a capercaillie had been found in the area of Štart last autumn and the incident had been potentially connected to a collision with a ropeway cable. The FireFly bird diverters have been suggested by the TANAP Administration. Although it was only the second documented case of such death for the past 11 years, the Vysoké Tatry mountain resort has decided to invest in the FireFly elements to be used for the Solisko Expres chairlift and plans to install them in order to protect birds as soon as possible after the system is delivered.