Wolfe Island – 602 birds and 1,270 bats were killed in 6 month period

Ted Cheskey

by Richard Blackwell  Globe and Mail

“Shockingly high” numbers of bird and bat deaths caused by one of Canada’s biggest wind farms should serve as a warning to planners of other projects that may be built in crucial wildlife zones, one of the country’s key conservation groups says.

The 86 huge turbines on Wolfe Island, just outside Kingston, Ont., began to produce power about a year ago, and an on-going count of bird and bats that have been killed by the blades has been conducted since then.

A consultant’s report covering the period between July and December of 2009 was released recently, indicating that 602 birds and 1,270 bats were killed by the turbines over that stretch. While the report says the numbers of dead birds and bats are similar to other wind farms in North America, Ottawa-based environmental advocacy group Nature Canada says the figures are actually surprisingly large and represent a significant threat to several endangered species.

“The monitoring reveals shockingly high numbers of fatalities of both birds and bats,” said Ted Cheskey, manager of bird conservation programs at Nature Canada. He said the figures underline what his organization has been arguing all along, that “there should not be wind turbines put in important bird areas or migratory corridors.”

The Wolfe Island fatality rate was about seven birds per turbine over the six-month period. Studies across North America show rates generally ranging from about 0.5 to about eight per year, but there is no number that is consider “normal.”

Mr. Cheskey said Wolfe Island is an internationally recognized “important bird area,” or IBA, for raptors – birds of prey such as owls and hawks that hunt for small mammals to eat. The numbers of those birds killed is worrying, he said, as is the mortality of swallows, which are in decline across Ontario.

The hundreds of bats killed is also cause for “grave concern,” he said, especially because they are less well understood than birds. “They are being massacred [and] we could be driving more species to extinction without understanding how or why.”

Nature Canada is not opposed to wind energy in general, Mr. Cheskey said, but it wants turbines sited to avoid disruption to wildlife. The organization has concerns about planned projects in Prince Edward County and near Point Pelee in Ontario, in southern Quebec, and near Medicine Hat in Alberta. All are regions with endangered bird habitats.

“We should not be putting these farms in places where the risk is going to be high,” he said. “It is a disaster that we can see coming.” At the very least, turbines should be shut down at certain times of year to reduce bird kills, he added.

TransAlta Corp., the Alberta-based energy giant that owns the Wolfe Island wind farm, insists that the death rates for birds and bats are within industry norms. “We are consistent with, or in many cases, below the levels seen elsewhere, whether it be eastern New York, North America or Ontario,” said Scott Hossie, TransAlta’s manager of environmental services for Eastern Canada.

Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, an industry lobby group, said data gathered from wind farms generally shows bird mortality is relatively low, especially compared to the numbers killed when birds fly into high-rise buildings or because of climate change.

Bill Evans, an ornithologist in Ithaca, N.Y., who has reviewed the Wolfe Island report, said it is difficult to come to a firm conclusion about bird mortality at the site because only a half-year of data has been collected.

However, he said “Nature Canada’s stance is probably right” because the initial data does show high levels of deaths. Mr. Evans said the seven birds per turbine that were killed in the six-month study period is the second highest number he’s seen for any wind farm in North America. A full year of data will help clarify the picture, he said.

The government agencies that received the Wolfe Island bird-kill report have been cautious in their responses, indicating they want to see more data before coming to any conclusions. Still, in a letter to TransAlta, an official of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources noted that the number of raptors and vultures killed at Wolfe Island were “among the highest” of any wind farm in the province. An Environment Canada official told TransAlta that the death rate among raptors “merits continued, close monitoring in the future.”

28 thoughts on “Wolfe Island – 602 birds and 1,270 bats were killed in 6 month period

  1. Well…Duh!! Gerretsen was repeatedly warned about this before approval. It was totally ignored.

  2. Keep the pressure on them Ted Cheskey. The birds and bats seem to only have your voice for their survival. What a damn shame, a dirty rotten shame. I never would have believed any Canadian government would stoop so low! I live for the day there is a huge North American REVOLT against the whole fake green energy of Industrial wind turbines and the sleezy corporations that have our leaders hoodwinked. We must run them out of our Province and our Country. We must depose our Premier as well. Where is that petition asking that we secede from Ontario until Ontario comes to it’s senses?

    Our Townships sure would fight harder for us if we all held back our Property Taxes. I believe we should all send our councils a letter of our intention to withhold property taxes as we can not contribute to a Township that endorses such a destructive regime that in fact Industrializes our Agricultural / Residential lands. Talk is cheap. Let’s do this!

  3. As if ANY bird and bat death(s) could be justified. These wondrous creatures are amongst the most highly evolved sentients on our beautiful planet.

    They are geniuses of song and flight. The miracle of migration is beyond human comprehension in scope and dimension – a mystery of creation.

    My GREEN means undoing harm and protecting the sentient creatures with whom we are deeply blessed to share our world. To contribute to harm is GREED not GREEN.

    Have some human hearts and souls become so corrupted by greed that these exquisite beings are nothing beyond “collateral damage”?

    I am losing sleep over this and my heart is breaking.

  4. How is it that Robert Hornung never gets challenged by reporters when he makes such preposterous statements like, “….data gathered from wind farms generally shows bird mortality is relatively low, especially compared to the numbers killed …..because of climate change.”

    Robert please!!!

  5. But Wait there’s more…!!!

    Solar panels kill insects…


    Green Energy? Black Energy? Hey it doesn’t matter — as long as a certified Greenie can fell good about themselves — that’s the important thing!

    And all for the same Low FIT rate of $0.80 per hour of Solar energy and $0.145 of wind power.

    Step right up folks — buy your wild life killing Kill-A-Watts right here at the McGuinty emporium!


  6. Can someone help me understand the reasoning:

    More birds are killed on tall buildings and by climate change (whatever that means) than by wind turbines. So let’s build more and more wind turbines so they will be the number one killers of birds. (???)

    It’s like saying more children are killed by cars than by electric bikes. So let’s get thousands of ebikes on childrens’ playgrounds, make them go really fast and let them have no rules and not have the drivers be held accountable for the deaths and injuries.

    Oh, I forgot – and let’s subsidize them.

    The drivers are responsible and class action lawsiuts will hold them to account – many, very large class action lawsuits.

    I am not being cynical – this is what is happening, as I see it. Birds and bats are so very much like us. And they are the children of Mother Earth.

    And what are “certified Greenies”, as you phrase it David, telling their children? Are they teaching them that wild creatures are of less value than humans? Or that they don’t matter at all?

  7. I’ve been told by the certified greenies that global warming will kill more birds than wind turbines. Oh really??

    The above number translates to 3 birds and 7 bats each and every day. That’s only from 86 turbines. Right now there are hundreds and hundreds of turbines planned near every IBA in Ontario. This will only get much, much worse in the next few years.

    No one in the MNR or MOE will speak out against this massive slaughter.

  8. I cannot imagine working for MNR or MOE. As members of the Harper “government” are gagged, so must be those who work in MON and MNR Ontario.
    Some must be just about ready to explode with the horrific stress of not speaking out.

  9. Encouraging to see this topic picked up by the media.

    We must post comments on the actual Globe and Mail page, too, that’s where the ignorance of people re. wind power surfaces.

    We must use any chance to put our message out there – not just on this website, but especially in forums like the G&M comment section where a lot of people post opinions that totally dismiss concerns about wind power impacts.

  10. In order to rationalize that the bird/bat death rates are acceptable because they are within the industry norm, you would first have to justify that the industry norm is acceptable. That logic is a little too warped for me to handle this morning.

  11. I am wondering about The Suzuki Foundation. How can they be supporting Wind industrialization given the harm to bats and birds, and all the other issues, including widespread moratoria in Europe and Denmark? I am so puzzled by their stance. And they have tremendous influence. A lot of Greenies, so-called, that I know basically have the attitude that if it’s good enough for David Suzuki, it’s good enough for me.

  12. Yes, Madasabat, the logic is terribly warped. But what really freaks me out is how warped and corrupt the values are.

  13. The David Suzuki corporation gives minor lip service to proper siting but does nothing about it nor ever raises a fuss.

    They truly believe wind turbines will save the world from global warming and fix the temperature…so collatoral damage is necessary.

  14. “I am losing sleep over this and my heart is breaking.”


    Many share your feelings…..about this important issue and others, including the devastation of human lives and families.

    …and I suspect that we have only just scratched the surface of how really bad this is all going to become.

  15. One more note on Solar panels………….the ground below the panels basically DIES!……..Microbes are destroyed and the land becomes totally “fallow” …..nothing will grow there and nobody can say how long that lasts for……………..life is being destroyed by Wind and Solar all in the name of “saving our planet”

    Doesn’t get much more bizarre than that!

  16. I’m curious about something. What is the “bird kill count” for Global Warming in Ontario.

    How many bird kills in Ontario due to Global Warming? Does anyone have statistics?

    In other words, “How many Bird kills have been prevented by installing wind turbines?”

    Any statistics to-date?

    Or is it all just “future maybes if we turn out to be right by some miracle”.

    I probably didn’t need to bother asking. Did I?

  17. The onus of proof needs to be placed on CANWEA and our government.

    Where’s the unbiased scientific data that proves “Man Made CO2 Based Global Warming” (not climate change) has killed any birds.

    Come on CANWEA! Where’s the real indpendent scientific data that shows this? You can provide it cant you? Thought so.

  18. That must be a rhetorical question, David. ;)We’re not dealing with sane, reasonable people, are we?

    Any certified greenies out there like to answer David’s question?

  19. If an oil slick killed that many birds and bats the public would be all over MOE and MNR and they would be looking to lay some charges. Why is it legal for industrial wind turbines to kill so many birds and bats? Monitoring the situation is saying “we don’t want to do anything” so “we hope it goes away in time” and then “we don’t have to do anything”. All the MNR guidelines indicate mitigation will be initiated if kill rates are high. Monitoring the situation is not mitigation. Mitigation choices include turbine shut down and that should be implemented as soon as possible to avoid wiping out local populations of birds and bats until they understand if they can avoid higher mortalities.

  20. The bird counts most likely are higher than what is being reported as actual counts are difficult to determine with the methods used. There is no power gain to the grid by putting industrial wind turbines in action that would not be there if industrial wind turbines were not operational. Our lights will still go on and most likely use no wind generated power. A few turbines are not making global warming, or global cooling disappear. They are insignificant so the lame argument of global warming killing birds comes from ignorance and repeating what one has heard. It is disgusting to say it is ok to kill the birds and bats because they were going to die anyway. We are all going to die sometime so is it ok to kill us right now? What is happening is wrong and no one should be trying to make it seem ok.

  21. Our rural and natural lands all important area for birds. We are supposed to be stewards of these lands.
    “Nature Canada is not opposed to wind energy in general, Mr. Cheskey said, but it wants turbines sited to avoid disruption to wildlife. ”
    The few Bald Eagles that live here will become victims of Wind Turbines, so what do numbers mean then? How many bird and bat deaths are considered acceptable? Does a population have to be eradicated, then they can claim they never existed?
    Wind Turbines belong no where in our farms an natural lands. They are wide spread Industrialization.

  22. Ted Chesky at Nature Canada was warned years ago about the cumulative threat that IWT projects posed to Great Lakes migration corridors and did nothing about it.

    A little late now, Teddy.

  23. Today, the courts ruled against Syncrude for not doing enough to stop birds landing in their waste pond. I trust the courts will force the wind farms to protect the bats and birds. I understand the only thing available to prevent the bats from investigating the source of the wind mill noise is to stop them from turning.

  24. I support windfarms IF they don’t harm others. They certainly have their place in our greening of the enviornment. Howvever they don’t have a place where the negatively impact others including animals and birds. There is plenty of suitable land that can support windfarms, lets choose those locations wisely so that ALL living creatures can live in harmony.

  25. My daily prayer: Creator, please help those who have lost their critical thinking abilities to recover them – for Gaiia`s sake. Amen

  26. A one-word, serious question for anyone who believes it is possible to wisely site IWTs in their present form:


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