Documents filed under Impact on Bats
White-nose syndrome (WNS) and the increased development of wind-power facilities are threatening populations of insectivorous bats in North America. This important paper presents analyses suggesting that loss of bats in North America could lead to agricultural losses estimated at more than $3.7 billion/year. An excerpt of the paper is provided below. The full paper can be downloaded by clicking on the link(s) below.
Save Western Maryland, the Maryland Conservation Council, Ajax Eastman, and L. Daniel Boone filed a formal complaint in US District Court claiming Constellation Energy violated the endangered species act for failing to seek and obtain an incidental take permit in reference to the Constallation wind project located on Backbone Mountain in Garrett County, Maryland. The full complaint can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
Notice of intent to sue was filed in reference to Constellation Green Energy LLC's installation and long-term operation of wind turbines in Garrett County, Maryland. The project will consist of 28 industrial scale wind towers along 8 miles of the ridge of Backbone Mountain. Available evidence demonstrates that the Constellation wind project will almost certainly result in unauthorized takes of Indiana bats and Virginia big-eared bats.
This important document reports on the effectiveness of changing turbine cut-in speed on reducing bart fataility at wind turbines facilities. The executive summary of the report is provided below. The full document can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
This press document was released by the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game following winter surveys of bat populations in the State. According to bat expert Dr. Thomas Kunz, "the most severe threats facing bats in eastern United States are habitat loss, White Nose Syndrome, and proliferation of poorly sited industrial wind developments."
The Vermont Public Service Board completed hearings on the proposed Georgia Mountain wind energy facility. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), an intervenor in the proceedings, was highly critical of the project's potential impact on the natural environment including resident and migratory bats. The ANR submitted the document at the link below to the Public Service Board detailing its recommendation for findings to the Board. An excerpt from the document pertaining to bat mortality is provided below.
In February, 2007, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission awarded Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO) a Certificate Of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct a wind electric generation facility and associated electric facilities (Case # 6630-CE-294), to be located in Fond du Lac County. The Blue Sky Green Field facility, consisting of 88 Vestas V-80 (1.65 megawatt) towers and totaling 145 megawatts, began commercial operation in May 2008. As a condition of approval, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission required post-construction mortality studies be conducted. Combined mortality for birds and bats per year was found to be very high at 52.37 animals per turbine per year or over 4,600 deaths for the site. The results of the fatality study can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. The executive summary of the report is provide below.
Federal district court Judge Roger Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a comprehensive ruling that an industrial wind energy facility in Greenbrier County, West Virginia will kill and injure endangered Indiana bats, in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court concluded that “the development of wind energy can and should be encouraged, but wind turbines must be good neighbors.” This is the first federal court ruling in the country finding a wind power project in violation of federal environmental law. Judge Titus' opinion and order on this matter can be downloaded by clicking the links at the bottom of this page.
During the winter of 2006/2007, an affliction of unknown origin dubbed “White-Nose Syndrome” (WNS) began devastating colonies of hibernating bats in a small area around Albany, New York. Colonies of hibernating bats were reduced 81-97% at the affected caves and mines that were surveyed. Since then, White-Nose Syndrome has been detected more than 700 kilometers (450 mi) away from the original site, and has infected bats in eight surrounding states. Most species of bats that hibernate in the region are now known to be affected and little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), northern long-eared bats (M. septentrionalis), and federally listed (endangered) Indiana bats (M. sodalis) have been hit particularly hard. The sudden and widespread mortality associated with White-Nose Syndrome is unprecedented in hibernating bats, which differ from most other small mammals in that their survival strategy is to live life in the slow lane—their life history adaptations include high rates of survival and low fecundity, resulting in low potential for population growth. Most of the affected species are long lived (~5-15 years or more) and have only one offspring per year. Subsequently, bat numbers do not fluctuate widely over time, and populations of bats affected by White-Nose Syndrome will not recover quickly. Epizootic disease outbreaks have never been previously documented in hibernating bats.
Thousands of industrial-scale wind turbines are being built across the world each year to meet the growing demand for sustainable energy. Bats of certain species are dying at wind turbines in unprecedented numbers. Species of bats consistently affected by turbines tend to be those that rely on trees as roosts and most migrate long distances. Although considerable progress has been made in recent years toward better understanding the problem, the causes of bat fatalities at turbines remain unclear. In this synthesis, we review hypothesized causes of bat fatalities at turbines. Hypotheses of cause fall into 2 general categories—proximate and ultimate. Proximate causes explain the direct means by which bats die at turbines and include collision with towers and rotating blades, and barotrauma. Ultimate causes explain why bats come close to turbines and include 3 general types: random collisions, coincidental collisions, and collisions that result from attraction of bats to turbines. The random collision hypothesis posits that interactions between bats and turbines are random events and that fatalities are representative of the bats present at a site. Coincidental hypotheses posit that certain aspects of bat distribution or behavior put them at risk of collision and include aggregation during migration and seasonal increases in flight activity associated with feeding or mating. A surprising number of attraction hypotheses suggest that bats might be attracted to turbines out of curiosity, misperception, or as potential feeding, roosting, flocking, and mating opportunities. Identifying, prioritizing, and testing hypothesized causes of bat collisions with wind turbines are vital steps toward developing practical solutions to the problem.
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wet Virginia field office, issued these comments regarding the Pinnacle wind power project proposed for ridgelines in Mineral County, WV. The comments pertain to the Habitat Characterization and Assessment of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species for the Pinnacle Wind Farm (BHE Environmental 2009a); the Avian Risk Assessment for the Pinnacle Wind Power Project (Kerlinger 2009); and the Bat Risk Assessment: Pinnacle Wind Farm (BHE Environmental 2009b). Excerpts of the letter are provided below. The full report can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.
The Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, and others submitted this pretrial brief and supporting reply briefs in their law suit opposing the Beech Ridge wind energy facility to be located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. These briefs show that the developer, Beech Ridge Energy LLC, discovered the presence of the federally endangered Indiana Bat at the project site but withheld this information from federal and state authorities. With this information hidden from public inspection, the project was granted a siting certificate from the West Virginia Public Service Commission to construct up to 124 wind turbines, each 390 feet tall, along a twenty-three mile stretch of land on forested Allegheny Mountain ridgelines. Construction commence in early 2009 but a subsequent injunction request was filed by the plaintiffs and granted pending the outcome of this law suit. The pre-trial brief and reply briefs by renown bat experts Drs. Lynn Robbins, Michael Gannon and Thomas Kunz can be accessed by clicking on the links below. The introduction to the reply brief is also posted below. The trial is scheduled from October 21 before the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
The Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and David G. Cowan have filed a law suit against Beech Ridge Energy LLC and Invenergy Wind LLC under the federal Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). This filing seeks preliminary injunction to halt further construction, turbine erection, and operation of the Beech Ridge industrial wind power project. The plaintiffs argue that the project, if constructed, will result in the "likely killing, injury, and other forms of "take" of endangered Indiana bats in violation of the ESA." The wind project is proposed to be located on ridgelines in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.
These guidelines, prepared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, set forth recommendations to commercial wind energy developers on how to characterize bird and bat resources at on-shore wind energy sites, and how to estimate and document impacts resulting from the construction and operation of wind energy projects. By issuing these guidelines, DEC intends to provide a consistent and predictable methodology for developers to assist them in the planning and development process.
Wildlife expert Dan Boone presented these slides at the 38th North American Symposium on Bat Research held in Scranton, PA in October 2008. Mr. Boone's presentation focused on the trade-offs of wind energy development in Eastern US balancing the benefits of this energy resource against the environmental risks, particularly to bats. Note that slides # 27, 32 and 33 of the presentation provide graphs which quantitatively estimate the potential impacts on bats and forest habitat resulting from the projected intensity of wind energy development within the eastern US states which comprise the bulk of the Appalachian mountain region. The summary slide from the presentation is listed below. The full presentation can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
This important recommendation is excerpted from the report:
Be it resolved on this 7th day of July, 2008 that members of the North American Symposium on Bat Research have expressed concern about fatalities of bats at utility-scale wind energy facilities in North America. Because bats have exceptionally low reproductive rates making them susceptible to population declines and local extinctions, bat fatalities at wind facilities could pose biologically significant cumulative impacts for some species of bats unless solutions are found.
This paper documents the results of an in-field test at the Maple Ridge wind energy facility in New York to determine the effectiveness of using an experimental acoustic bat deterrent to reduce bat mortality. The executive summary excerpted below suggests the results were inconclusive. Most bat experts remain unconvinced that acoustic deterrence will be a suitable mitigation approach to reduce bat fatalities at existing turbines.
WHEREAS, wildlife conservation and energy efficiency should be major considerations in the development of viable sources of alternative energy (Government Accountability Office 2003; Arnett et al. 2007; National Research Council 2007); and,
While the public and many decision-makers generally believe that wind energy is environmentally benign, it may entail significant detriments to wildlife and essential habitats, which need to be more clearly understood, and addressed. State fish and wildlife agencies should be at the forefront of cooperative development and implementation of measures to characterize, avoid, minimize and effectively mitigate the impacts of wind energy development on natural resources. Therefore the position of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, in regard to wind energy development is to: ...