Canada following United States lead in handling bird kills: a double standard applies to wind farms

Greenpeace protesters who obviously have never met a wind developer

BY JACK DINI – Hawaii Reporter

A judge recently found Syncrude Canada Ltd, Canada’s largest oils sands producer, guilty in the deaths of 1,600 ducks that landed on a toxic Northern Alberta tailings pond in 2008, ruling the company should have had deterrents in place. There’s no word yet on a sentence but Syncrude faces possible fines of $800,000. (1)

Meanwhile, on the ‘green front’, over the first six months of operation, the huge 86 turbines on Wolfe Island, just outside Kingston, have killed 602 birds, 13 of which were raptors, and just under 1,300 bats. “Project this kill rate into the future, and Wolfe Island’s turbines might end up costing this continent over 12,000 birds (many of which are classified as threatened) and 26,000 bats in the next decade alone, not to mention the many tens of thousands of progeny the slain birds would have had,” reports Leslie Kaduck. (2)

Will Wolfe Island’s eco-terminations prove more palatable with the public because they are caused by a ‘green industry’? If Canada follows the United States’ lead, wind turbines will get a free ride. Speaking about the Syncrude incident, Canada’s Prime Minister declared it a ‘terrible ‘tragedy on national TV. (3) The Prime Minister didn’t mention the many more animals killed, or to be killed, by wind turbines.

As reported on this page last year, in July 2009 Pacificorp agreed to pay $10.5 million in fines for the deaths of at least 232 golden eagles, 46 hawks, 50 owls and nearly 200 other birds that had been electrocuted in Wyoming and in August, Exxon Mobil agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees for 85 birds which were killed after the animals came in contact with hydrocarbons in uncovered tanks. These were the latest of hundreds of cases that federal officials brought against oil and gas companies over the last two decades for violations of the Migratory Bird Act. Yet, although wind turbines are killing between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year, the US Department of Justice does not press charges, and there is no hue and cry from environmental organizations about the ‘green energy’ bird deaths. (4)

In Canada, environmental groups are gloating over the Syncrude conviction. (5)

Greenpeace said the Syncrude trial exposed gaping holes in the regulatory process and highlighted insufficient enforcement and monitoring of oil sands operations. (6) However, Greenpeace has chosen to remain silent on wind turbine bird kills.

So there it is: Most likely Canada will follow the US and environmental groups lead and maintain a double standard: one that’s enforced against the oil, gas and utility sectors, and another that exempts the wind power sector from prosecution.


1. Jeffrey Jones, “Syncrude Guilty in 1,600 Duck Deaths in Toxic Pond,” Planet Ark, June 28, 2010
2. Leslie Kaduck, “Island wind turbines killing birds,bats,” Whig Standard, June 12, 2010
3. George Koch, “Syncrude’s Dead Ducks Hardly a Terrible Tragedy,”, May 1, 2010
4. Jack Dini, Hawaii Reporter, “Wind Energy Gets a Free Pass on Bird Kills,” Hawaii Reporter, November 10, 2009
5. Diane Katz, “Windmills kill more birds,” Financial Post, June 30, 2010
6. Darcy Henton, “Oil Sands Syncrude found guilty in deaths of 1,600 ducks,” Edmonton Journal, June 25, 2010

6 thoughts on “Canada following United States lead in handling bird kills: a double standard applies to wind farms

  1. This is just heart-breaking. I love birds so much.

    I ask to hear from some of you who share my incredulity at the silence maintained by both Greenpeace and David Suzuki regarding the deaths of birds and bats.

    I believe it was this past Sunday that I heard a programme, hosted by David Suzuki, being aired on CBC Radio One called “The Bottom Line”. This episode was about the oceans and the need to preserve the lives of the creatures who dwell there.

    I found myself wondering about preserving the creatures of the sky, and whether David Suzuki would mention anything about wind development. Sure enough, towards the end of the programme, he was speaking with, I believe, a native elder about opportunities for native young people in “green energy”. Suzuki actually came right out and mentioned that wind development would provide good opportunities – no mention of anything else – just Wind.

    Please help me to understand what it is about Wind that makes David Suzuki oblivious to both harm and non-viability – particularly the harm to birds and bats – for he seems to be such a champion of the wild ones.

    He said that what we do to the water we do to ourselves. What about what we do to the sky?

    And what about industrial turbines in fresh water, water and sky together.

    I realize that the obvious is money – could it be that he invested in Wind early on and that he has, therefore, been bought? I can think of no other possible explanation. Unless it is that humans eat from the sea much more than from the sky.

    I am just so stunned by this glaring and, I feel, really awful incongruity.

  2. After years of dealing specifically with the bird issue and seeing the blank looks on these “environmentalists” faces, I wish I could give you a good answer.

    To many of them it is not about science or truth, it is about religion. Greeness is the new religion and to question or criticize feels to them, in their gut, like it would to a Christian to question or criticize Jesus. It is a deep moral issue.

    Another way to look at this blindness might be Cognitive Dissonance – a psychological phenomenon which refers to the severe discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already believe and new information. This is where the hostility, name-calling and demonizing comes in. They don’t want to learn, they want to shut us up.

    You have to remember Suzuki has been beating the wind drum for years. To actually investigate the serious harm to wildlife is impossible for his mind to even contemplate.

    And yeah, …also the money. 🙂

  3. Thanks MA. Fascism comes full circle – from right to left.

  4. Just found a relevent website: environmentalism is fascism. address is

  5. I’ve written the Suzuki Foundation several times now on this slaughter of our raptors and other birds. I’ve also left several phone messages. The Suzuki Foundation has never responded! This is very sad indeed from a man who preaches to us about being good stewards to Mother Gaia.

  6. I can ditto that, AAW.

    They don’t even want to talk about it. Hypocrites.

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