As the demand for energy grows nationwide, so does renewable energy sources being relied on to fill the need. The Department of Energy has a goal of wind energy producing 20% of the nation’s total energy demand by 2030. Environmental assessments are routinely carried out for wind farm proposals, and potential impacts on the local environment (e.g., plants, animals, soils) are evaluated. Turbine locations and operations are often modified as part of the approval process to avoid or minimize impacts on threatened species and their habitats. Any unavoidable impacts can be offset with conservation improvements of similar ecosystems which are unaffected by the proposal.
Am I the only one that drives through the Midwest looking at these giant wind farms and wind turbines that are moving at a snail’s pace and wonder “How can birds or bats not get out of the way”? Protestors and environmental groups always bring up the dangers of Wind Turbines and the impact they have on avian mortality but what do the numbers say and do Wind Farms need to employ Wildlife Management Tactics? First let us look at why this happens in the first place.
The USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) estimated that Over 200 species of bird have been documented as killed by collision with wind turbines. Passerines (i.e., songbirds) are most commonly reported, followed by raptors that hunt by day such as hawks, eagles and falcons. Although fatality rates for raptors may be lower compared to passerines, raptors are especially vulnerable to collisions due to their flight behaviors. Given the life history traits of raptors (i.e., long-lived, and low reproductive rates) their populations are more at risk of decline from the number of different sources of impacts that affect these species daily. So where do wind turbines stack up compared to other causes of bird mortality? Check out this graph of data provided by B. Sovacool.
To cut down the mortality rates as well as the damage caused by wildlife to wind turbines here are a few Wildlife Management techniques that could be used to do so.
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