Electrocution on power lines is one of the principal problems facing raptors and other medium- and large-sized birds at the global scale. The recent European-based Spanish state legislation on avian electrocutions has focused on Special Protection Areas (SPA). Here we evaluate whether this policy has been successful, using the Community of Valencia, Spain, as a regional model. We compiled a database of 400 electrocution events from information on electrocuted birds taken into Wildlife Recovery Centres and incidents registered by the main local power company during the last decade. A small proportion (c.18%) of electrocution casualties occurred within SPA boundaries but the 5 km wide belt immediately surrounding the SPAs produced more than three times the number of avian electrocutions (c.60% of the total recorded). This was probably caused by higher densities of both power lines and susceptible birds, and higher use of the pylons for perching and roosting in the areas surrounding the SPAs. We therefore conclude that the focus on preventative measures being applied within SPAs is inefficient and that action should be targeted in these peripheral areas. Our results illustrate a classic problem of an edge effect associated with a protected area, where external human influences directly affect the persistence of protected species within reserves. Equally, they support the idea that management strategies within parks cannot be independent of the human activities surrounding them.