“Extremely high” bat, bird kills alarm Nature Canada

Gerretsen pushed this project through with no Environmental Assessment

Cleaning up carcasses of turbine victims

By PAUL SCHLIESMANN, THE WHIG-STANDARD

A conservation organization reviewing the number of birds and bats killed by the wind turbines on Wolfe Island is calling the numbers “extremely high.”

A consultant’s report estimates that 1,270 bats and 602 birds were killed by the island’s 86 turbines from July 1 to Dec. 31 of last year, the project’s first months of operation.

“I really believe there never should have been an industrial-type wind farm built on Wolfe Island,” said Ted Cheskey, manager of bird conservation for Nature Canada.

The island is situated in what’s known as an Important Bird Area, “globally significant,” he said, for the numbers and types of birds that migrate through the area.

A second, offshore project of up to 60 turbines has received early-stage provincial approval for the waters of Lake Ontario to the west of Wolfe Island.

“It could be very significant in a bad way,” said Cheskey of the offshore project. “Monitoring birds offshore is going to be very difficult. The potential for heavy impact is there.

“We’re setting ourselves up for a big ecological mess.”

Studies at other wind farms have turned up kill rates of one to two birds per turbine annually.

The Wolfe Island rate was seven birds per turbine over the six months.

Among land birds, 28 tree swallows were found killed, eight bobolinks and seven purple martens.

Red-tailed hawks fared the worst among birds of prey with three being found dead.

Researchers found six turkey vulture carcasses.

Cheskey said he’s seen an Internet video of a vulture being killed.

“It’s hard to watch. An unsuspecting, large, beautiful bird is killed in front of your eyes,” he said.

“The blade spins around and it comes up from below or down from above. These birds are soaring birds so you can imagine any soaring bird drifting in these slow circles would be at pretty high risk. I’m surprised there aren’t more deaths.”

Cheskey said it’s important to collect more data to include the spring migration figures.

Those results could prove to be even more deadly, he said, because bird numbers tend to be more concentrated as they fly north and weather conditions make flying more difficult and hazardous.

No one from TransAlta, owners of the Wolfe Island wind farm, could be reached for comment Friday.

The company has scheduled a meeting for next week with members of the citizens’ group WIRE — Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment — to discuss the bird and bat kill numbers.

14 thoughts on ““Extremely high” bat, bird kills alarm Nature Canada

  1. It’s not the responsibility of the handful of residents on Wolfe Island to worry about this…this is a globally signficant IBA!

    Everyone should be deeply concerned about this. Gerretsen has blood on his hands.

  2. Now that the predicted destruction is a reality – it is time to immediately stop all development of Turbines anywhere near Important Bird Areas!

    This is another (not unexpected) blow to proponent driven process and computer modelling.

    Stantech’s professional reputation as an environmental consultant has been shattered. Everyday citizens predicted this outcome but the Stantech Environmental Assessments did not see it coming. They are either incompetent or complicit by falsifying reports.

    Both the developer and their “environmental” consultant should be facing charges – massive fines and the same type of criminal prosecution we are witnessing in Alberta over the Syncrude tailing pond case. After all, what is good for the Mallard must be good for the Bobolink!

  3. I’m not going to try to defend Stantec – I think at the very least they haven’t lived up to their professional obligations. But just to be accurate, if you read what they wrote during the ER’s (and I have, every last word) they said they didn’t know what the effects would be, and even occasionally injected some weakly-worded warning that was safely dismissible by the MOE etc. You can read over the history (or at least my version of it) at http://amherstislandwindinfo.com/wolfebirds.htm, which has links to the original material.

    That the MOE etc. were willing to proceed on that unknown is at least reckless, perhaps criminal. Kind of like what is going on with respect to health issues and co2 emission issues, both of which are also unknown.

    I think Stantec was blinded by the prospect of receiving their fees, shading their indeterminate conclusions to suit their employer. This is, sadly, not an uncommon human failing.

  4. It is time someone investigated the revolving door between the MOE, Stantec and the wind industry. A cursory glance will reveal that the wind industry is quick to snatch up young policy analysts from MOE and MNR after they have put in a few years with government. Great to have some insiders who know exactly how to “get around” government environmental restrictions.

  5. David: Always hard to tell as companies adjust their names a bit with take over’s and buy outs, but most likely. Just because it looks like they have offices all over means little as to what is at each site. Some employees are better than others but regardless of experience getting the truth cannot be expected if the truth is damaging to the client. That holds true for any consulting company that wants to stay in business. The best they can put in is “the impacts are unknown”, which should be translated to “impacts most likely” because if the impact was not expected it would have been reported as such. Reputations can be damaged and most clients want a consultant that is not questionable. It is in Stantec’s best interest to keep this mess quiet. The bump you refer to could be more like a hole on a busy road that only gets bigger with time. If this has happened with one report it is most likely considered an acceptable practice elsewhere in the company. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

  6. Responsibility for Wolfe Island lies squarely on the shoulders of MPP John Gerretsen, Minister of Environment who as Minister of Energy courted the project, as Minister of Municipal Affairs ensured the research into wind speeds and other initial research was funded through taxpayers’ grants, advised the municipal officials and company through the OMB process (that was when he received $1500 in campaign contributions from CHDI and promoted the project at a company hoedown on the eve of the OMB hearing — sweet), and finally Minister of Environment, when he denied multiple requests for an individual environmental assessment.

    This is John Gerretsen’s project and he is responsible. His ministry ignored their own scientists’ recommendations and the feds abandoned their protests.

    John Gerretsen must be held accountable.

  7. I agree siakot. The truth is, no matter what information Stantec reported- good, bad or ugly…Gerretsen was going to rubberstamp the deal. If you all remember, Gerretsen stepped aside on this approval because there was such a blatant conflict of interest evident and handed it over to the Tourism Minister who immediately rubberstamped it himself.

    http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=1051244

    “As a result of [the integrity commissioner’s] advice and ruling, Premier Dalton McGuinty has appointed Tourism Minister Peter Fonseca, to exercise my decision-making authority with respect to the Wolfe Island Wind Project,” Gerretsen wrote in his letter to constituents.

    Scumbag.

  8. The turbines on Wolfe Island must be shut down immediately. If not, the resulting killing of our magnificent birds and bats is mass murder.

  9. The really sad thing is the way the bats die! They don’t get struck by the blades, They get to close to the blade where there is a severe barometric change, not much by human measure. But enough to cause their poor little blood vessels to instantly rupture.

  10. Ontario has already legally committed to conserve biodiversity. Canada signed the International Accord on Biodiversity in 1992. From that came the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy of which Ontario signed in 1995. As part of that commitment the Endangered Species Act (2007) was legislated and species were identified. Habitat protection is supposed to happen when habitat is defined and regulated for each species. Right now some species have regulated habitat protection, some have not. Even the regulated habitat protection may not be enough to protect a species so Section 28 of the Act requires habitat additional to regulated habitat, when needed, to become protected under a “habitat protection order” specific to the site and the activity. MNR knows all about this as they are responsible to implement and enforce the Act. The Green Energy Act does not over ride the Endangered Species Act so it is a matter of implementing what already exists. If habitat (including air space for foraging, protection of territory or nest) of a species at risk needs to be protected, MNR is supposed to implement the Endangered Species Act including Section 28. There no excuse for habitat not to be protected. There is no excuse for putting industrial turbines, known to kill birds, into airspace frequented by species at risk.

  11. Exactly, zen2then. The air is not ours to take. Remember Ferron’s lyrics?

    “The eagle takes the wind my friend, the eagle takes the wind.

    It makes me think of this, my friend: where does the eagle live in me.”

  12. It says, “The company has scheduled a meeting for next week with members of the citizens’ group WIRE — Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment — to discuss the bird and bat kill numbers.”

    What was the result of this meeting?

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