Death of 10 raptors on Wolfe Island concerns naturalist

Wolfe Island  – Bird & Bat Monitoring Report

Environment Canada – Comments on Wolfe Island Post-Construction Monitoring Report 

Further Analysis Here

By Mike Norris, The Whig Standard

There were fewer birds and bats killed by wind turbines on Wolfe Island in the first half of 2010 than during the previous six months, but the number of dead raptors is cause for concern, says a bird expert.

During the period between Jan. 1 and June 30 of last year, 10 raptor carcasses were recovered, compared to 12 between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2009.  Seven red-tailed hawks, one osprey, one northern harrier and one turkey vulture comprised the group of 10 raptors killed by the giant blades.

“We were hoping (12) was an aberration, but it seems to be steady,” said Erwin Batalla, chairman of the nature reserve committee of the Kingston Field Naturalists. “The raptors are the most concern. It’s probably one of the higher raptor mortality rates at a wind turbine.

“Wolfe Island probably doesn’t have many (raptors). One osprey could be 10% of the (species’) population.”

The seven red-tailed hawks, said Batalla, could represent as much as 35% of the species on the island.

The island’s raptor population could dwindle over time, he said.

“There’s not a lot of nesting raptors on Wolfe Island, but (the mortality rate) might be 10% per year,” said Batalla. “Locally, one day they might not be there any more.”

The mortality figures were released Monday by TransAlta, which owns and operates the 86-turbine, 197.8-megawatt facility. A TransAlta environmental services manager was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

A consultant’s report estimates that 549 birds and 450 bats were killed between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2010. The estimates for the previous six months were 602 and 1,270, respectively.

According to the latest report, 66 carcasses of 28 bird species were collected during the reporting period. The estimated mortality for all birds is 6.39 per turbine (the turbine towers are 80 metres high and each turbine is 45 metres long.). Combined with the results of the June-December 2009 period, the annual mortality is estimated at 13.39 birds per turbine.

The species killed included a couple dozen swallows and martins, one chimney swift and one bobolink — both of which are considered threatened species.

The birds’ death rate was distributed uniformly through the spring (April, May and early June). There were fewer in February and March, and none reported in January.

Batalla offered a couple of theories on why the bird mortality figures were down.

“Birds don’t follow the same migratory path in spring as in fall,” he said, adding that weather can also be a factor.

“Smaller birds fly higher when it’s a clear day and lower when there’s cloud cover.”

The annual mortality rate of 5.82 birds per megawatt is far below the adaptive management threshold of 11.7 birds per megawatt identified in Trans -Alta’s post-construction follow-up plan.

According to Environment Canada, the annual bird mortality rate is within the range of other wind farms in Canada and the U.S., but it is the fifth-or sixth-highest mortality level reported from 45 wind farms in North America.

When mortality is calculated on a per megawatt basis, said Environment Canada, the Wolfe Island numbers are comparable to levels reported at other North American wind projects.

The government agency said that while the mortality rates may be high, they are not unexpected given that the area is important for breeding, wintering and staging birds.

The report also states that 34 carcasses of three bat species — including 28 silver-haired bats — were collected during the reporting period. The estimated mortality rate is 5.23 bats per turbine. Combined with the results from July-December 2009, the annual bat mortality rate is 19.99 bats per turbine.

Batalla admitted he doesn’t know a lot about bats, but he said some species hibernate during winter while others migrate south. Those could be factors in the sharp drop in the mortality rate, he suggested.

The annual mortality rate of 8.69 bats per megawatt is at the median of the mortality range observed at other facilities in North America, which range from 0 to 39 bats per megawatt. The rate is below the threshold of 12.5 bats per megawatt as identified in TransAlta’s follow-up plan.

TransAlta says it will conduct research this year to evaluate practical measures to reduce the effects of operating wind turbines on bats at the wind plant. It will complete testing of potential mitigation measures during the fall migration period in 2011 to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing such mitigation measures at Wolfe Island.

The estimate of 602 bird deaths in the second report was based on a total of 100 bird carcasses found beneath the turbines during the first half of 2009; the 1,270 bat deaths estimate was based on 180 actual bat carcasses.

12 thoughts on “Death of 10 raptors on Wolfe Island concerns naturalist

  1. Predictable. Inexcuseable. Shameful. Criminal. Heartbreaking.

  2. Disgusting!!!!! So there eventually will be no birds left and therefore no bird deaths by Industrial Wind Turbines.

  3. People of Ontario, I ask for what purpose do wildlife protection laws serve?

    The Wolfe Island Wind Farm became operational on June 29 2009. Between July 01 2009 and December 31 2009, twelve Raptors were slaughtered. Between January 01ST 2010 and June 30 2010, ten raptures were killed. Between July 01 2010 and December 31 2010, there were (??) Raptors killed.

    Raptor Mortality rates for the last six months of 2009 as shown were twelve. Raptor mortality rates for the first six months of 2010 as shown were ten. If you do the math in the first year of operation twenty-two Raptors were killed. Please keep in mind that during the first monitoring period amounted to seventy-two days out of a six-month period. One can only guess what took place for the remaining one hundred and ten days.

    On the average per six-month period, eleven raptors are being taken by this facility; this would suggest that approximately thirty-three Raptors have been killed since July 01 2009. To be statistically correct, the cumulative adverse effects on Raptors though just an approximation is 33. By the time this facility is to be decommissioned, given way to the same type of monitoring practices, the cumulative effects in death alone, will rise to four hundred and forty Raptor fatalities, never mined to mention all of the other species that will be slaughtered over that twenty year period?

    However, statistics given do not relate to the actual numbers because when the monitoring does take place, it is not taking place on a daily basis. TransAlta statistics are inconclusive, further, statistics do not mention the numbers of offspring that are left to die as a result of one or more parents being killed by these wind turbines. If monitoring is not being done on a daily basis, then how would anyone be able to provide proper stats.

    The Ontario government by virtue of its own Endangered Species Act section 17 allows proponents to contravene the Federal Species at Risk Act, Section six (6) should they kill any wildlife; The purposes of this Act are to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.

    Not that it is going to happen, because it has not happen to any wind facility operating in Canada as of yet. Under SARA TransAlta permit expires at the end of June 2012. TransAlta has supplied the information of the approximate number of wildlife that their facility has killed (given to the exact number of days) for the period specified given to the species mentioned within the article fall under the provisions of SARA, as follows:

    Section 73, Maximum term Subsection (9), No agreement may be entered into for a term longer than five years and no permit may be issued for a term longer than three years.”

    Presently under the principles and provisions of SARA, there are proponents of wind facilities that have previously been issued permits (if they have not been they should have been) that should not be operating their facility in Ontario under this Act, because they have exceeded or are about to exceed their three year and five year terms under SARA.

    I ask for what purpose do wildlife protection laws serve? In answer to the question they do not serve any purpose if your BIG BUSINESS. Why is both the government of Ontario and Canada allowing this to take place? Last year a couple of hunters killed a couple of Swans in the Luther Marsh and were charged under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, why aren’t these developers being charged under this act as well?

    What’s really sad about Wolfe Island, the government was told that this project should not go ahead because of the wildlife problems that would take place, yet they approved it anyway, why?

  4. Wolfe continues to be a mess. Transalta is now in mitigation discussions with MNR for the raptors. We’ll see just what comes of that. Anyway, my analysis is at my site, windfarmrealities.org.

  5. Thanks for the excellent article.

    “When mortality is calculated on a per megawatt basis, said Environment Canada, the Wolfe Island numbers are comparable to levels reported at other North American wind projects.”

    Expressing the number of dead birds and bats per megawatt is an interesting way to present the data. It must be so comforting to know that the project is within design guidelines of x (whatever that number is) dead animals per megawatt (sarcasm).

    (sarcasm aside…) I wonder about the risk of under-reporting casualties. Turkey vultures and other scavengers would also remove bird carcasses before they were counted, so who knows how many the official count is missing. Queen’s University has an environmental program. It might be a worthwhile project for them to do an actual daily count of bird deaths to test the accuracy of the models that only rely on sampling.

  6. McGuinty and all the Wind Industry reps know that “there is an acceptable level of casualties” in this Game!…………… maybe the figure is 10%, but that 10% whether it is human or wildlife casualties is an ACCEPTABLE level to these heartless money grubbing power brokers………………..sounds a bit like a third world dictatorship that writes off a 10% mortality rate of human beings when they make decisions that affect people’s lives in the worn out psycho babble “For the Greater Good”.

    Sounds rather like a “Communist Dictate” doesn’t it…………..now I wouldn’t dare state that there is a “Communist Agenda” going here would I?

  7. Industrial wind turbines do not produce enough useable kW to warrant the risk to birds or bats or loss of habitats and environments. No mitigation (other than decommissioning) measures are available that will stop the bird and bat deaths from operational industrial wind turbines so any discussion is an excuse to delay action. Since IWTs do not have the ability to replace any reliable generation capacity or peak capacity they should be dismantled sooner than later. Give the birds and bats a fighting chance to survive.

  8. Numbers are irrelevent. We are talking about some of the most highly-evolved, magnificent creatures on our planet.

    Avoidable. Inexcuseable. Predictable. Criminal.

    Heart-breaking.

  9. Thank you for this well informed article, and for drawing attention to the threat of extinction posed by wind turbines. The threat of extinction is fueled by governing entities failure to abide by laws. It’s under strict liability criminal statute and International Treaty the Migratory Bird Treaty Act MBTA that these migratory and endangered birds are being killed.

    The subject in the below letter is Cape Wind Associates, EMI, LLC President (Jim Gordon). will fund Massachusetts Audubon (Jack Clarke) service to count Cape Wind avian mortalities, (will implement Adaptive Management for Cape Wind).

    There is finanical interest in the outcome of the federal environmental NEPA permit review of Cape Wind by a U.S. Department of Interior officialy identified “Key Partner” collecting and analyzing avian data, and commenting upon the same in NEPA review, Massachusetts Audubon. The value of the Adaptive Management monitoring service, to count Cape Wind caused carcasses, over the duration of the term defined by Mass Audubon, is approximately $8 million dollars. Mass Audubon’s condition of “support” for Cape Wind, during NEPA review, is that Cape Wind fund a carcass counting contract that they will impliment.

    December 10, 2010

    Michael Moriarty USFWS Regional Director
    Maureen Bornholdt BOEME Program Manager

    RE: Cape Wind Mass Audubon

    Dear Mr. Moriarty and Ms. Bornholdt:

    Thank you each for taking the time to speak with me yesterday at the forum held in Boston, MA, for ocean stakeholders in New England on President Obama’s new National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes.

    I do not, as Ms. Bornholdt suggests, consider that it should be my role to police a compromised ESA Section 7 federal process, by contacting Jack Clarke and Jim Gordon.

    As I expressed during the Q&A following your presentations, Mass Audubon has participated in the collection of data, analyzed the same, and they have commented on the Cape Wind project as a Minerals Management Service identified “Key Partner” during the Cape Wind project NEPA environmental and permit review. NEPA environmental analysis should avoid taking on a project advocacy position; or demonstrate “bias” in favor or against a project as you understand.

    By their own evidence, ongoing, Mass Audubon generally, and Jack Clarke and Taber Allison specifically, have exhibited “bias” in the Cape Wind permit review by offering Mass Audubon’s conditional “support” for Cape Wind, (“Challenge” 2006 below), during the NEPA review in which they have been involved. By their own evidence, Mass Audubon states they intend to implement adaptive management adaptive management for the Cape Wind project, (June 25, 2010 press release), “funded by Cape Wind”. Mass Audubon expresses conflict of financial interest in the outcome of the Cape Wind NEPA environmental review of the Cape Wind offshore wind energy project.

    Conservation Law Foundation has an arm, CLF Ventures. I suspect that the NGO Mass Audubon has a similar business model as an extension to their NGO that would allow this for profit arrangement.

    I respectfully request that USFWS and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Enforcement take action to intercede and prevent Mass Audubon from profiting by up to 6,600 violations of the MBTA per year by Cape Wind they assist. It is critical that Best Science is safeguarded where the roseate tern is at the brink of extinction and elsewhere.

    If you will please note, Mass Audubon expresses intent to conduct AM for all U.S. offshore wind energy projects, (see evidence provided in the last link below).

    Most Respectfully,

    Barbara Durkin
    Northboro, MA 01532

    Supporting evidence:

    Mass Audubon’s comments on the Cape Wind DEIS on February 23, 2005 to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District — Reference File No. NAE-2004-338-1, EOEA No. 12643:

    “By utilizing other bird mortality data provided in the DEIS, Mass Audubon staff scientists arrived at avian mortalities that ranged from 2,300 to 6,600 collision deaths per year.”

    http://www.massaudubon.org/PDF/CapeWindDEIS.pdf
    ‘Minerals Management Service FY 2006 Cooperative Conservation Project’

    “Project Title:

    Cape Wind Energy Project

    Examples of Key Partners

    Cape Wind LLC, State of Massachusetts, Cape Cod Commission, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, and the U.S. Minerals Management Service.”

    http://www.mms.gov/offshore/PDFs/CooperativeConservationReport2006.pdf

    Published: March 28, 2006
    A Cape Wind Challenge To Get It Right
    by Taber Allison and Jack Clarke

    “MASS AUDUBON CHALLENGES the developer of Cape Wind and its permitting agencies to accept comprehensive and rigorous monitoring and mitigation conditions that will reduce the risk to birds and other wildlife. If these conditions are adopted, and remaining data gaps are addressed, Mass Audubon will support Cape Wind, the largest, clean, renewable-energy project in the Northeast…”
    “…Monitoring and mitigation should be funded by Cape Wind with contributions from independent institutions and government agencies as appropriate.”

    http://www.massaudubon.org/news/index.php?id=320&type=editorial

    MA Audubon Announces their intent to implement Adaptive Management for the Cape Wind Project “funded by Cape Wind”.

    Mass Audubon “What’s New? June 25, 2010 press release, excerpt:

    “Next Steps for Mass Audubon participation
    Mass Audubon will continue to analyze and report on Cape Wind through:
    1. MMS’ OCS lease arrangement;
    2. ACOE Section 10 permit issued under the US Rivers and Harbors Act;
    3. EMS adaptive management plan; and
    4. Avian monitoring and mitigation plan implementation during the construction and three year post-construction phases of the project.”

    http://www.massaudubon.org/news/index.php?id=1482&type=press

    Additional Evidence:
    http://bjdurk.newsvine.com/_news/2010/03/21/4046167-mass-audubon-condition-of-support-for-cape-wind-spells-bias

  10. Idiots!!!! So many Idiots. Obama, Gore, McGuilty, DoNoGood-Doguid, Suzuki,et al .To be totally fair, each & every bird/bat/wildlife death, must be viewed in the same light, as the duck fatalities at Fort McMurray Ab. were. These brain-dead, idiot windys, (I’m talking to you Gideon Forman, the NON Dr.) are quick, or is that quack? to criticise anything in the oilfield, but it seems anything goes for their idea of the greater good. The greater good of the world, would be them, on a far away planet, in a far away galaxy! Say 100 million, trillion light years away ? Idiots! Frigin Idiots!

  11. There are likely > 10 million other birds for every bald eagle in Ontario. The ratio for common raptors like red tailed hawks and others is in the tens of thousands or more. The likely hood of raptors being killed is about 1000 times greater than for a chickadee. That combined with the lower populations and longer lifetimes makes for a disaster.
    Its no wonder that the wind turbine companies like comparing total bird deaths, instead of focussing in on the species they do the most damage too.
    The Lake Erie shoreline turbines (within a 10 km of the lake) will inflict terrible damage to Bald Eagles.

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