Wind Turbines: New Study Documents High Bird and Bat Kills

Solstice Goat

Frater Aegagrus
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Location
Seattle, WA
The Wildlife Society Bulletin just published a selection of studies on Wind Energy and Wildlife Conservation including an important new study by Dr. K. Shawn Smallwood, “Comparing Bird and Bat Fatality-Rate Estimates Among North American Wind Energy Projects.” Smallwood earned his Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of California, Davis, has authored nearly 200 papers and reports, and serves as Associate Editor of The Journal of Wildlife Management.
He is an expert on bird collisions with wind turbines and has investigated bird fatalities caused by electrocutions and line strikes along electric distribution lines throughout California.
In his new study, Smallwood states:

I estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012.
He explains:

Projecting estimates of [bird fatalities per megawatt per year] to the estimated installed capacity of wind energy in the United States in 2012, I estimated annual fatalities of about 651,000–888,000 bats (with and without the 19 wind projects in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, respectively), nearly 83,000 raptors, and about 573,000 birds of all types. … Including fatality rate estimates from the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area lowered the 2012 fatality projection across the United States by 27% for bats and increased it by 78% for raptors.

Smallwood explains why wind turbine-related bird and bat moratality estimates came in low in the past:


Erickson et al. (2005) estimated annual deaths of 20,000–37,000 birds, including 933 raptors, at the 6,374 MW of capacity that had been installed in the United States by the end of 2003. After taking measures to estimate comparable fatality rates among wind energy projects, I estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year, including 83,000 raptor fatalities, at 51,630 MW of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States. My fatality rate estimate was 20 X greater than Erickson et al.’s estimate for all birds and 89 X greater for raptors, even though the installed capacity of wind energy increased only 8.1-fold from 2003 to 2012. My increased estimates were likely due to improved estimation methods and many more wind-energy projects having been monitored and found to cause higher fatality rates than averaged by Erickson et al. (2001, 2005).





You have to appreciate the beauty of the kestrel, aka the sparrow hawk. Yes, wind turbines kill kestrels.


http://www.conservativeblog.org/amyridenour/2013/4/19/wind-turbines-new-study-documents-high-bird-and-bat-kills.html
 

jfh

perpetual student
Joined
Dec 3, 2007
Location
Texas, USA
Birds just don't have much of a chance. I have neighborhood and ferral cats hanging out at my place a lot. Not just birds but lizards. I have tons of lizards, so I leave the cats alone.

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/outdoor-cats-are-prolific-killers-study-finds

Free-roaming house cats kill an estimated 4 billion wild animals across the U.S. every year, including birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Cat owners often wonder about their pets' secret outdoor lives, but few are curious enough to actually follow them around the neighborhood. And thanks to a new study by the University of Georgia and National Geographic, that isn't necessary: Researchers attached video cameras to 60 house cats that are allowed outside, hoping to learn how free-roaming felines spend their free time.

The answer? About a third of pet cats kill time by killing wildlife.
 

Mad Scientest

New member
Joined
Apr 11, 2006
Location
Illinois
In my estimation if this gentleman’s increased estimates are correct then we should find the ground around windmills piled high with the carcasses of dead birds.
 

Solstice Goat

Frater Aegagrus
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Location
Seattle, WA
Original Poster
In my estimation if this gentleman’s increased estimates are correct then we should find the ground around windmills piled high with the carcasses of dead birds.

Well, us 'mere mortals' are not allowed anywhere near the wind turbines, which has actually closed lots of recreational area in the Columbia River Basin. Other scavengers may get some of the carcasses, workers hide some of the bigger ones, because they don't want the news to get out and lose their jobs. Last time I was over in the Grand Coulee area, the mosquitoes were sci-fi thick. Leave your engine running and the area of your vehicle near the exhaust will turn black they're so thick. Was it just wetter that summer? They had signs up indicating that they had been spraying to control the mosquitoes. That's never good. First time I'd seen that practice in Eastern Washington.

Birds just don't have much of a chance. I have neighborhood and ferral cats hanging out at my place a lot. Not just birds but lizards. I have tons of lizards, so I leave the cats alone.


The answer? About a third of pet cats kill time by killing wildlife.

Yes, that statistic is often used as a comparison, however, cats typically kill songbirds that people tend to feed, so we don't really see the poulation dent in those type of birds. Bats and birds of prey are in a much more precarious situation, based on how often they show up on endangered species lists.



Raptors are common in the eastern Columbia River Gorge, where shrub steppe and grasslands offer prime habitat for prey such as ground squirrels and pocket gophers.

The big birds typically soar at about the same height as the turbine blades — roughly 300 to 400 feet.

Although this is the first golden eagle death reported in Washington, raptors have been killed at wind projects elsewhere. At the world's largest wind project, Altamont Pass Wind Power Resource Area in California, between 570 and 835 raptors are killed each year by wind turbines, the newspaper said.

A study by Shawn Smallwood, an independent wildlife ecologist who has also studied bird deaths at Altamont, concluded that raptor deaths have been far higher than predicted at Klickitat's first wind project, the 200-megawatt Big Horn Wind Energy Project.

Smallwood estimates 243 raptors died in Big Horn's first year of operation, compared to a company consultant's projected annual toll of 33.
http://www.katu.com/outdoors/news/45435797.html
 

Cookie

Lovin' life~
Joined
Mar 2, 2009
Location
JerSea
Those numbers are astounding :shock:

You would sorta expect a bird to fly into a turbine, but a bat?
 

Solstice Goat

Frater Aegagrus
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Location
Seattle, WA
Original Poster
Those numbers are astounding :shock:

You would sorta expect a bird to fly into a turbine, but a bat?

Dead bats are turning up beneath wind turbines all over the world. Bat fatalities have now been documented at nearly every wind facility in North America where adequate surveys for bats have been conducted, and several of these sites are estimated to cause the deaths of thousands of bats per year. This unanticipated and unprecedented problem for bats has moved to the forefront of conservation and management efforts directed toward this poorly understood group of mammals. The mystery of why bats die at turbine sites remains unsolved. Is it a simple case of flying in the wrong place at the wrong time? Are bats attracted to the spinning turbine blades? Why are so many bats colliding with turbines compared to their infrequent crashes with other tall, human-made structures?

Although these questions remain unanswered, potential clues can be found in the patterns of fatalities. Foremost, the majority of bats killed by wind turbines are species that rely on trees as roosts throughout the year and migrate long distances; we call these species “migratory tree bats.” Currently, migratory tree bats compose more than three quarters of the bat fatalities observed at wind energy sites. The other striking pattern is that the vast majority of bat fatalities at wind turbines occur during late summer and autumn. This seasonal peak in fatalities coincides with periods of both autumn migration and mating behavior of tree bats. Seasonal involvement of species with shared behaviors indicates that behavior plays a key role in the susceptibility of bats to wind turbines, and that migratory tree bats might actually be attracted to wind turbines.
If you haven't seen these things up close, it's hard to imagine how larger they are. The giant blades have a significant rotational speed towards the tip. :shock:
 

jfh

perpetual student
Joined
Dec 3, 2007
Location
Texas, USA
Cookie, I think the biggest problem for the bats is that these wind farms are literally on farmlands where bats usually hunt. The turbine is so loud that the bats cannot "see". They hunt with sonar, since they are blind.

We love our bats in my area. http://www.statesman.com/s/bats/
 

Solstice Goat

Frater Aegagrus
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Location
Seattle, WA
Original Poster
White-nose syndrome (WNS) and the increased development of wind-power facilities are threatening populations of insectivorous bats in North America. Bats are voracious predators of nocturnal insects, including many crop and forest pests. We present here analyses suggesting that loss of bats in North America could lead to agricultural losses estimated at more than $3.7 billion/year. Urgent efforts are needed to educate the public and policy-makers about the ecological and economic importance of insectivorous bats and to provide practical conservation solutions.

http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Products/Publications/pub_abstract.asp?PubID=23069
 


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