Whooping Cranes – A letter to National Geographic

by Jim Wiegand, a Berkeley-trained wildlife biologist.  Jim has walked thousands of square miles of northern California over the past decades, mapping raptors and studying their behavior.

Hello, I read your recent article about the Whooping Crane population and I would like to share some additional insight with National Geographic.

As you well know, last year (2009) the Whooping Crane flock, lost 57 members. In Texas 23 were reported lost on their wintering grounds. Officially some of this decline is attributed to the South Texas drought that affected the birds’ food and water sources. I think there is much more to this story that needs to be told. At one time there were tens of thousands of these Whooping cranes that wintered in Texas. I know time has changed their habitat but a little flock of 270 should be able to find plenty food in Texas.

What is not disclosed in the article is the extreme danger propeller style wind turbines pose to the Whooping Cranes. Thousands of these wind turbines exist all along the whooping cranes 2500 mile migration route and a new wind farm has recently been constructed in Whooping Crane habitat south of their favorite wintering grounds at the Aransas wildlife refuge. It is my opinion that last year in their for search of food, some Whooping Cranes moved onto the Kenedy Ranch and some of them perished. In the 1930′s when the Whooping Cranes were near extinction they were still using the habitat on the Kenedy Ranch in the winter. Much of this ranch is still intact. While it is well known that these cranes like to eat the Blue Crabs that live in wetland areas of Texas, they also eat may other species including frogs, mice, snakes, fish and crawdads. It is documented that last year the shortage of crabs around Aransas did push the cranes to ponds and grain feeders away from the refuge. Some also could have easily made their south to the many ponds and wet lands on the Kenedy ranch. You can check out the turbines, the wetlands, and all the ponds by going to Google earth. I have enclosed several images for your convenience.

Despite knowing all this, no one in government will stand up and say a word. It is time to admit that the wind turbines are killing the Whooping Cranes. Instead there is only talk about the threat of collisions with transmission lines. Plain and simple, there is and has been, a long standing cover up concerning bird mortality and the propeller style wind turbine. It goes all the way back to Altamont Pass and extends all the way to Washington. I have talked with high level Government employees and I am well aware that one of the prerequisites of being such an employee requires them to “roll over” when asked to. If one does not want to play this game they are demoted or railroaded.

If one were to think about all this logically the truth becomes obvious. If you were a California Condor, a Golden Eagle or a Whooping Crane would you rather glide into a stationary and even flexible power line or be smashed with a several ton wind turbine blade moving at 220 mph? Transmission lines are not killing off the Red kite population in Europe. The prop turbine is. Power lines also haven’t killed the 2000-2500 Golden Eagles that have perished at Altamont Pass. The wind industry propaganda for all this is that house cats, cars, buildings and windows are a greater threat to Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Whooping Cranes, and other rare birds. It is fraud and it is pure garbage. These turbines are a primary threat and killer to all birds.

Since the recent decline of the Whooping Crane population last year there is now radar being used at the wind farm that exists in Whooping Crane habitat on the Kenedy Ranch in Texas. If there was not an extreme danger posed by these wind turbines, this radar system would never be needed. If there was not an extreme danger then there would not be great anxiety and phone calls to Tom Stehn or other biologists when these cranes are seen near a wind farm. There would also be no need for wind farms to have emergency plans to shut off the turbines in the hope of avoiding a fatal collision.

I know how this industry works. These guys would never say a word about killing an endangered species and I think there needs to be an investigation by a credible party. Since the gulf oil spill, everyone has been made aware of the cozy relationship between BP and the MMS. Well there is also a corrupt relationship between the wind industry and U.S. Fish and wildlife Service that needs to be looked at.

As it now stands, with the invasion of thousands of propeller style wind turbines along their migration route, the future of the Whooping Crane looks very bleak. Captive breeding programs, to offset high turn over rates in the population, are not the answer. It is just a Band-Aid. The only long term solution for all this is for the wind industry to move on to the next generation of wind turbines. Wind turbines that will provide much more power and are also not lethal.

7 thoughts on “Whooping Cranes – A letter to National Geographic

  1. We constantly hear from the pro-wind turbine groups about how small the impact wind turbines have on bird deaths implying that the bird death numbers are much larger due to high rise buildings. This may have been the case in the past, but the number of wind turbines in the world as of December 2009 is estimated to be 159,000 (based on average 1.0 MW turbine size, installed capacity of 159,213 MW per World Wind Energy Conference http://www.wwindea.org/home/index.php ). The number of wind turbines is expected to increase to approximately 200,000 wind turbines by the end of 2010. The growth of wind turbines has been exponential.

    According to Emporis there are only 137,088 high rise buildings in the world as of May 2010. Emporis manages a worldwide database on construction data and commercial real estate information. Emporis makes this information universally accessible and wants to create the world’s biggest and best database about buildings. http://www.emporis.com/en/bu/sk/st/ma/ct/

    The average 1 MW wind turbine typically has a 90 meter base and a total height of 135 meters (442 feet). High rise buildings are any structure over 35 meters (115 feet). Less than 1% of high rise buildings in the world are over 135 meters.

    How can 159,000 spinning structures (soon to be 200,000), kill less birds that 137,088 stationary structures? Both structures have lights/strobes on at night that attract birds. These statics show that bird deaths from wind turbines easily exceed deaths by high rise building just by the total numbers of each structure.

  2. National Geographic just recently had to “admit” their stance on Global Warming was all based on lies and innuendo so I wouldn’t call it a “sacred” and “unblemished” product of the truthful publication it has “appeared to be” for many years.

    Like most other mainstream “pillars” of society they too were influenced beyond reason by the “eco-fascists” that have basically bribed their way into every mainstream Industry such as the Media!

  3. For an overview of the impact on migrating wildlife, including whooping cranes, please read Location, Location, Location…Migration, Migration, Migration in the Wildlife section of this website.

  4. For all birds and bats the propeller style wind turbine is a looming environmental disaster. When these turbines are introduced into their habitats, they become the number one cause of death for rare and endangered bird species. The installation of these turbines is the equivalent of putting a new apex predator into their primary habitat. Despite the propaganda perpetrated by wind industry, that house cats, cars, buildings, etc are far more dangerous to birds, these human related activities are not a factor in the survival of many these rare species because of the isolation of their habitats. With their 300 meter rotor sweep and 220 mph blade tip speeds, the prop turbine kills anything that flies. Sadly the list of the dead also include the smartest, the strongest, and the healthiest of these species. Today the wind industry continues to be in collusion with government agencies that have helped to cover up this wind energy impact. The cumulative impacts caused from installing tens of thousands of propeller style wind turbines has to be addressed.

  5. Hi, we are having the same problem in Australia with wind farms wanting to build in crane habitat areas. I would like as much evidence as possible showing deaths of cranes by turbines.
    Thanks Hamish. hamish.cumming@bigpond.com

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