Google Claims Hunters Are Shooting Their Equipment

An Australian news website reports that Google claims hunters regularly shoot down their ariel fibre cables …

Google has revealed that aerial fibre links to its data centre in Oregon were “regularly” shot down by hunters, forcing the company to put its cables underground.

“What people do for sport or because they’re bored, they try to shoot at the insulators,” Gill said.

I am not saying that some individual is not intentionally targeting their cables, maybe a technophobe with metal health issues or some irresponsible kids with a .22, but not the hunting community as inferred by this Google employee. Sadly this story has hit Slashdot and will soon be plastered all over the web and painting hunters everywhere in a poor light.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • RL

    Actually, I had to switch to more expensive DSL as the wireless option offered in my area kept going down from the day dove season opened to the day that pheasant closed. I remember the first time I called them and bitched about being down. Their answer was that their repeater kept getting shot. Between that and the lineman friend I have who regularly repairs insulators that have obviously been shot, there’s an awful lot of lead flying around and not near enough common sense.

  • gyrfalcon

    Why do fiber cables have “insulators”? It’s pretty stupid to put fiber above ground in my opinion… A tree falling over can take it out.

  • West

    Unfortunately there are some bone-headed hunters out there who give the vast majority a bad name.

    My father was flying a Cessna 172 over West Texas several years ago and a hunter shot a hole in the engine forcing him to ditch in a large man made reservoir where the plane sank. He and his passenger made it out with scratches but the plane was a total loss.

    The hunter told one of his buddies who then called the police. The guy is now in prison.

  • I would like to be able to say this is entirley fabricated but I have been to at least one of the locations where this occurs. Above Abert lake in Eastern Or. there is a road named “the power line road” on every one of the high line towers is a sign to please not shoot the insulators. The road follows the lines for miles through some decent pronghorn, coyote, and rabbit country that is really wide open, with the power lines being the only man made structures for miles around.
    The problem of vandalism here has been around way before google and for them to use the term hunter in the story is misinformed and borderline ignorant. The term hunter should not be interchangable with “drunken idiot with nothing else to do in the middle of nowhere”.
    This is the the very same issue as the media using the term hunter when the should be saying poacher or wildlife criminal. The misinformed unfortunatly are only able to pass on misinformation.

  • Oh the shame of the Slashdot crowd! Whatever will hunters do?

  • Burst

    What I read was:

    “When poor contingency planning on our part leads to foreseeable circumstances, we are sometimes forced to spend additional funds to do it correctly.”

    “We’d like to draw your attention to the negligent actions by parties other than Google. Please file your lawsuits accordingly.”

  • Don

    I don’t want to fuel the stereotype which the google employee drew from, but ever damned street sign in and around the state game-lands near my house gets shot up every season. When I say “every sign” and “every season” I’m not being hyperbolic. I literally mean that if I saw one that wasn’t shot it would be unexpected and memorable.

    Closer to the likely truth is that there are as many asshole hunters as there are asshole non-hunters, and it only takes a few to ruin both equipment AND the image of their respective groups.


  • Nanban Jim

    Probably cheaper to hang cable than bury it. And this is one of those things where “cheap” doesn’t just mean “inexpensive.” There are far more things that will damage cable floating about in the air than buried in the ground. One reason you don’t see a lot of it above ground in hurricane areas.

  • mort

    Actually the insulators is a reference to the ceramic insulators on high tension lines. Less than intelligent people shoot at the insulators all the time.

    You would think that running fiber underground would be safer than aerial, however there are too many people that do not have locates done before they dig. Any jerk with a credit card can rent a ditch witch or a backhoe. Usually people go out of their way to leave telephone poles alone.

  • Anon

    Unless they caught someone, how do they know it’s hunters?

    Why not Mujahideen? or or evil ‘bing’ agents? Or magic forest goblins?

    They couldn’t get to the site of the cut because of an avalanche, but we’re supposed to believe the same avalanche didn’t cause the break? Nor ice buildup on the lines? Because really, ice buildup on the lines or overhanging branches has never caused a line to go down.

    And the Google ‘engineer’ jokes about repairmen facing gunfire? No libtard bias there! Sounds to me like the people responsible for the cables are trying to blame anything but equipment failure or blessed Gaia.

    This article is pure unadulterated BS.

  • Jim

    Knowing rural America, it was due to boredom.

  • Bryan S

    Insulator keeps it from being a ground I would guess. For things like lightning strikes.

    As for people shooting them up, at our club, which has 1800 or so members, we still have idiots that take a steel target holder out, staple paper to it, and blast away, ignoring the setup that is there for targets. Or shooting at the “Range cold” sign. or ignoring the restrictions on magnum calibers on the steel target range.

    Some yahoos never want to listen because they know better, and get butt hurt when you correct their dangerous and stupid behavior.

  • Kurgen99

    Bored teenagers no doubt.

  • Anon

    Does anyone else object to implicating hunters, rather than just saying “criminals.” Google is known to be quite anti-gun and anti-hunting and this is just another example of them pushing their agenda.

  • DavidR

    Unfortunately, I think we all know/knew one or two people who think that taking pot-shots like this is harmless fun.

    Google is claiming that the onset of the damage always coincides with the start of hunting season. So I can’t really fault them in their statement, as I think reasonable to suppose that any person out in the woods, on public lands during hunting season, with a gun, will also have a hunting license on their person. We could argue the semantics of how no “true” hunter would vandalize private property in this way, but that’s a moot point really.

  • xstang

    This reminds me of my uncle in texas, who, to protect his livestock during seasons, would paint the word “COW” in bright orange lettering on the side of his animals to protect them.

    My girlfriends uncle has had 2 outdoor cats and one dog they own shot or killed this summer due to being shot at-mostly .22 fire, but when you weigh 15 pounds it might as well be 50bmg.

    This doesn’t surprise me at all.

  • Dick Pilz

    The fiber cables were piggy-backed on power distribution poles. The insulators belong to the power lines. Trees (if any on the Columbia Plateau) are usually cleared away.

    Cable burial on a basalt lava plateau can get expensive.

  • dmurray

    Google has all seeing digital images of the planet. A record of the deed likely exists in their vast archive. Do a search!

  • Bob Barker


    There are pros and cons to all line deployment options. As you’re probably well aware it’s very common for power/phone/coax (and recently fiber) cables to be strung up telephone poles. Do you consider all above-ground lines “pretty stupid”? Overall it’s cheaper to deploy, repair and upgrade when you don’t have to dig up the ground to do it.

    Example cross section of a fiber optic cable since you don’t understand the need for insulation:

  • wizemanful

    Anyone who would do this probably isn’t considered a hunter. In fact, I’d like to see Google prove they were getting shot down at all. Might have to use Yahoo! for a while…

  • me


    I’d say it probably has something to do with the order of magnitude difference in cost between aerial an buried lines…

  • andrew

    gyrfalcon, the linked article is lacking some details that I saw in another news article; the mentioned insulators are for nearby electrical wires.

  • rubbershotgun

    where i live, road signs frequently get blasted with shot. excavators and bulldozers that are doing road work far away from urban centers sometimes get shot at.

    while im sure most hunters are responsible and behave themselves, there will always be a few that quite simply can’t resist the urge to shot at everything they see

  • Maverick
  • I can’t believe anyone on here is offended by this. They’re not talking about you, they’re talking about some random idiots. Every one of us has met a jackass at the range or the bar or wherever that you know is completely capable of this.

    Not everyone who owns a gun is intelligent or responsible, unfortunately. We’re not the exception, thankfully, but the idea of some drunken dummies taking potshots? Not too hard to believe.

  • These kind of actions provide ammunition (heh!) for gun control proponents. There’s always a few who have to ruin it for everyone else.

  • null

    Being from oregon I can vouch for the boredom part… In fact we have a little town here named boring. Have you ever seen the road signs around here outside the city limits? more holes then swiss cheese. Also being an avid slashdot reader I’ve already passed this on in my office to much laughter.

    Paint in a bad light? The only thing painted in a bad light was googles stupidity at putting something in the Dalles that they didn’t expect to get holes in it. If they wanted it to remain pristine they should have put their data center in Portland.

    All the locals know this state is filled with a lot of moronic rednecks if you stray. They also get drunk and drive in circles in whatever resembles the main part of town, usually the size of 3 square blocks. I’ve been told this form of entertainment is because “there ain’t nothin’ better to do on a friday night.” My redneck roomate that shared this information also liked to don his cowboy hat and get drunk while hooting and hollering at random strangers on our front porch.

    I never have understood it, it’s a free country, and apparently you are free to be an idiot.

  • gunslinger

    I hate it when broad generalizations are used, especially for specific agendas. now i can’t say google is right or wrong here because i don’t have the facts. I can understand why g would say it’s hunters if it happens at the start of hunting season (post hoc, propter hoc anyone) but doesn’t make it true. Granted where i grew up, the first week of deer season all the nuts were out, but after that they got their buck and went home. the “real” hunters stick it out for the “perfect” buck.

    but that being said, there are a number of issues at hand in terms of cable management. poles were the “standard” for the longest, so it’s easy to tack on more items to the pole. digging is expensive and time consuming. not only do you have to dig, you have to file the paperwork to use the land, usually involving getting utility-right-of-ways and dealing with property owners. then you hvae to make the land as good if not better than before you leave, it’s a nightmare. so..

    but yeah… wow

  • Kyle

    I live in Akron, right near Goodyear world headquarters and only a few miles from their blimp hangers in Ellet. We hear all the time about how people shoot the blimps flying over, or how they do the yearly maintainence on the blimps and find a few hundred slugs in each. They’ve blamed hunters, rednecks, kids, gangstas, all the usual scapegoats for this kind of thing, and nothing has ever been done about it. I wouldn’t worry about any reprocussions unless the problem gets significantly worse.

  • Kevin

    Our outside plant guy has mentioned this was a problem when he worked for a telco in a different rural state. Plus bullet holes in the cable are often not obvious from the ground, so it’s a huge pain to find and repair.

  • treefroggy

    “maybe a technophobe with metal health issues”

    Metal health issues. Is that like metal fatigue ?