Impact on Birds and Impact on Bats
Some scientists believe thousands of bats, including non-endangered species like the Seminole bat, are dying each year in wind turbines, based on available counts of bat deaths at existing wind farms.
"Most biologists will tell you that over time and cumulatively, [bats] won't be able to sustain these fatality rates," said Ed Arnett, the director of science and policy for Bat Conservation International.
However, the rapid growth and expansion of wind farms has had an increasingly significant effect on birds and bats, especially since, according to the GSR, the average wind turbine size has increased. The American Bird Conservancy (ABC), an avian conservation group, observes that upward of 14 birds per megawatt of wind energy are killed each year.
Nature Canada says the project's 86 turbines are among the most destructive of wildlife in North America. The organization argues TransAlta should shut down parts of the wind farm - one of the biggest in the country - during high-risk periods in the late summer and early fall.
"More important, however, it is a direction that will inevitably be disastrous for the many birds, bats, and other wildlife that will be killed and injured by poorly sited wind power projects, since the industry will have little if any incentive to take such impacts into consideration in making siting decisions."
The group concluded in written comments that the project falls short of state law by failing to address the "expected cumulative fatalities" of birds and bats.
However, project consultants for the county and the applicant, Nextra Energy Montezuma II Wind, LLC, pledged to provide habitat for wildlife and birds elsewhere.
Testing at wind energy sites throughout the state shows approximately 25 bats and four birds killed every year at each of the state's 420 active turbines ...That puts the estimated kills through June 2010 at some 10,500 bats and 1,680 birds.
And with congress pushing for states to develop alternative energy like solar, nuclear and wind, agencies and local government are working to enact wind ordinances to control development as well as the ecological impact on birds--and bats. From Fayetteville's KUAF, Jaqueline Froelich has the story.
Clearly, this is a double standard. Syncrude faces fines of up to $800,000, while Wolf Island's bird and bat mortalities are accepted as part of the cost of going green. The oilsands get unfairly labelled as "bloody oil," but nobody complains about "bloody wind."
"Shockingly high" numbers of bird and bat deaths caused by one of Canada's biggest wind farms should serve as a warning to planners of other projects that may be built in crucial wildlife zones, one of the country's key conservation groups says. ..."We should not be putting these farms in places where the risk is going to be high," he said. "It is a disaster that we can see coming." At the very least, turbines should be shut down at certain times of year to reduce bird kills, he added.
The surveys, which are financed by the wind industry, indicate that wind power is a relatively minor hazard to birds. But some scientists say it is still too soon to discount the risks posed by the rush to develop Northwest wind power. They are particularly concerned with the plight of hawks, eagles and other raptors, which are large, long-lived birds at the top of the food chain.
A recent study in Klickitat County, Washington shows that active wind farms in Washington and Oregon kill more than 6,500 birds and 3,000 bats annually.
Biologist Orah Zamora works for West, Inc., an ecological field study company, monitors the Windy Flats project, one of the largest wind farms in the United States. Zamora looks for dead birds and bats that have been severed by the spinning blades.
The thousand of birds killed by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass tainted the reputation of the renewable energy source.
But according to a recent report by the Ventana Wildlife Society and the Stanford Solar and Wind Energy Project, smaller wind-power projects may be able to harvest energy in some parts of Monterey County without harming the endangered California condor.
"The condor is the main thing that's been holding up the development of wind-power projects in Monterey County," said John Roitz.
Wind turbine memorial. Illustration: Rob Biddulph Imagine that at the flick of a switch, you could not only turn a light on or off but select which power source you were going to use. Would an eco warrior choose wind power or coal? Surely this is a no-brainer.
Turbines already are taking a heavy toll in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Game Commission released a report last spring showing the death rate is highest for bats, which additionally face being wiped out by a mysterious phenomenon called "white-nose syndrome."
The evidence has mounted since studies in 2004 showed 1,500 to 4,000 bats annually were killed by the 44 turbines on West Virginia's Backbone Mountain.
Wind energy has been touted as cost-effective to produce clean energy as well as jobs. That promise, along with new government subsidies, has helped wind turbines pop up on hills and fields throughout America. But not every environmentalist is happy about that development. Critics charge that wind-energy development can cause habitat fragmentation-a displacement of a species that can eventually reduce its numbers-as well as the deaths of birds and bats (a species that is especially vulnerable due to its low reproductive rates) that collide with the wind turbines' massive rotor blades.
Wind turbines in Oklahoma may be good for producing clean energy, but they are bad news for bats and the lesser prairie chicken.
As government officials try to harness the Oklahoma wind as a practical power source, they must also be mindful of the birds and bats most affected by wind farms.Western Oklahoma is home to bat colonies and the lesser prairie chicken, but the area also has some of the best real estate for wind farms.
A state wildlife biologist says the Whistling Ridge Wind Project, proposed for a timbered ridge in eastern Skamania County, could cause high wildlife mortality, especially for bats and raptors.
Surveys of the 1,152-acre site, including those done for the applicant, Bingen-based SDS Lumber Co., show the area is heavily used by bats, raptors and other birds, biologist Michael Ritter said in formal comments to the state agency that will decide whether to approve the project.
Wind turbines are responsible for the deaths of between 10,000 and 40,000 birds each year, according to the American Bird Conservancy.
Debate over the significance of the threat turbine blades pose to migratory birds is about as old as the concept of wind farms themselves. It began in Altamont Pass, Calif., site of one of the first U.S. wind farms, where there were more than 4,000 turbines. Hundreds of bird carcasses were found on the farm grounds, leading bird conservationists to propagate information that wind turbines were inherently deadly to birds.
Concerns about the safety of birds and bats were voiced at a state hearing yesterday on a proposal to construct a wind-energy park in Coos County. ...A subcontractor for the developer conducted a study of the birds and bats in the project area, but Don Kent, a member of the site committee and the Natural Heritage Board, said it was inadequate.
Wendy Perrone, executive director of the Three Rivers Avian Center in Brooks, W.Va., said Friday that she had not seen all the details about the project, but there are some concerns.
"The mountain range is a migration route used for many decades and centuries....from butterflies to bats up to and including eagles," she said.
Windmill projects have a potential for killing bats. Why this happens is not yet clear, Perrone said.