The U.S. Geological Survey on Monday said wind farms "placed in prime wildlife habitat in North and South Dakota can influence the distribution of several species of grassland birds for years after construction, including species whose populations are in serious decline."
Library filed under Impact on Birds from South Dakota
While Eastern game bird aficionados are quick to announce that the ruffed grouse is the "king of upland birds," there is little doubt that the sage grouse can lay claim to the throne in the West. As the largest grouse species in North America, the Greater sage grouse is a massive bird, with males often exceeding 5 lbs in weight. Those who hunt the giant birds claim that a flushing sage grouse is akin to a small turkey taking flight at your feet.
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.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has written U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials to say that changing wind farm policies based on the chance that migrating whooping cranes might be hurt would send a bad message.