Local wind farm fatalities may affect whole bird populations | Anthropocene

GR:  The mortality rate suggests that wind turbines will result in loss of almost all the western U. S. Golden Eagles.

“Hundreds of thousands of birds are killed each year by wind turbines worldwide. But few studies have looked at the demographic consequences of this local-scale mortality for a species as a whole.

“Now, researchers have gathered evidence that deaths of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) at a single wind farm in northern California may have effects on the entire western US population of this species.

“The researchers studied 67 golden eagles killed by wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, one of the largest and oldest wind farms in the country.

“Eagles tend to use that habitat around the turbines. It’s windy there, so they can save energy and soar, and their preferred prey, California ground squirrels, is abundant there,” says J. Andrew DeWoody, professor of genetics in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. “As they soar, these eagles are often looking straight down, and they fail to see the rapidly moving turbine blades. They get hit by the blades, and carcasses are found on the ground under the turbines.”

More: Local wind farm fatalities may affect whole bird populations | Anthropocene

3 thoughts on “Local wind farm fatalities may affect whole bird populations | Anthropocene

    • The American Bird Conservancy is actively seeking to minimize bird mortality from wind generators. Here’s the Bird Conservancy list of requirements for wind farms (the last item is going to be difficult):

      - Ensures turbines are located away from high bird collision risk areas;
      - Employs effective mitigation to minimize bird fatalities;
      - Conducts independent, transparent post-construction monitoring of bird and bat deaths to help inform mitigation and;
      - Calculates compensation for the loss of ecologically-important, federally-protected birds.
      

      The Audubon society website has a discussion of mortality-reduction methods that have been tried (http://www.audubon.org/news/will-wind-turbines-ever-be-safe-birds). The comments are excellent. One related to sound deterrents and cited Bat Conservation International (http://www.batcon.org/).

      Wind energy capture places power generation in the hands of investors. Much of what is decided for birds will be determined by profit considerations, not wildlife concerns. Though wind energy might be safer than fossil-fuel energy, it doesn’t seem to be a solution to the human impact on Earth’s natural systems.

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