With wind energy towers rising around the state, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials worry about rare whooping cranes that pass through on their migration route betweem Canada and Texas. Representatives of the Fish and Wildlife Service plan a meeting this week with the North Dakota Public Service Commission and a separate meeting with officials of some 30 wind companies working in the Great Plains. They want to discuss a habitat conservation plan for the big white birds. "It's on the table now because we're seeing such a rapid increase in the number and size of wind power projects.
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A world's-largest scale wind farm proposed for Oliver and Morton counties could snare and kill a migrating endangered species. Whooping cranes pass through those counties flying between northern Canada and Texas and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is concerned that an explosion of wind farms up and down the Great Plains' flyway will further endanger the rare birds. The agency charged with protecting the enormous white cranes will meet with the Public Service Commission next week to talk in general about the problem. It will meet in Denver later in the week with 30 wind companies working the Great Plains region.
There are those who don't like wind farms because of the unsightly tall turbines that are erected. There are those who don't like wind farms because larger groups of the wind turbines can require new electric transmission lines to be constructed, which also are unsightly and controversial. The latest strike against wind farms came this past week when the United States Fish and Wildlife Service said wind turbines are the latest serious threat against whooping cranes. Whooping cranes are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty. ...The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates as many as 40,000 turbines may be erected in the U.S. Section of the whooping crane's 200-mile wide migration corridor from Canada to Texas.
Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms. Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266. But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms. "Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.