War on woodpeckers: 5G, utility poles and the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act

James Schwoch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article uses environmental perspectives as a framework for analysing mobile communication networks, platforms and devices related to fifth generation (5G) expansion. The article focuses on wooden utility poles, recent actions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and contested Department of the Interior (DOI) interpretations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The pell-mell expansion of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), new deregulatory actions allowing for new equipment on utility poles and controversies regarding the 1918 Bird Act absolving corporations from culpability when they kill birds as part of their business activities (oil spills, construction and similar) create a dangerous mix. These new initiatives pose threats to wildlife including when birds, particularly woodpeckers, interact with wooden utility pole infrastructures. The United States of America is the main geographic setting for this study, although these trends are partially evident in many other nations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-246
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Media
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • FCC
  • IoT
  • animals
  • ecosystems
  • environment
  • infrastructure
  • regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • General Environmental Science
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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