Monarch’s fate up in the air

By DANIEL PEARCE, Dunville Chronicle

LAKE ERIE – The struggling monarch butterfly faces potential disaster if the Ontario government’s moratorium on offshore wind turbines is ever lifted and a proposed wind farm for the middle of Lake Erie — right in the butterfly’s migration path — goes ahead, biologists warn.

“I’m really concerned about butterflies. They don’t fly that high,” said Scott Petrie, executive director of Long Point Waterfowl, a non-governmental body studying the impact the turbines would have on water birds in the area.

Petrie said he fears that if the Liberals are re-elected in the fall, they will lift the moratorium they imposed earlier this winter and an 85-kilometre long set of turbines proposed off Long Point will go ahead.

Jon McCracken, director of national programs for Bird Studies Canada, said a mid-lake wind farm “could be a disaster, it could be benign” for the monarchs as well as migrating bats.

“The key thing is we don’t know,” said McCracken. “If you don’t know what the answer is, you should find out . . . Bats and butterflies could be put at risk.”

Every fall, monarchs gather along the north shore of Lake Erie, on their way to their winter home in Mexico, where they wait for a northerly wind to take them across the lake.

“We don’t know how high they (butterflies and bats) fly,” noted McCracken.

“We think the province is quite wise curtailing this (offshore wind farms) pending further scientifi c review.”

The monarch’s numbers have been falling in the past few years. BSC carries out counts of the butterfly, which has been declared a “species of concern” in Canada, at its station at the tip of Long Point every fall and has found its numbers to have dropped dramatically in the past three to four years.

In 2010, the butterfly’s winter numbers in Mexico dropped to a record low. This winter’s numbers have improved: they’ve doubled from last year but are still only slightly more than half the long-term average.

McCracken said BSC has yet to analyze its numbers from last fall’s migration but suspects they are “an improvement.”

Another concern, said Petri, are the low-pressure air pockets created around the swirling blades of the turbines that cause bats’ lungs to implode, instantly killing them.

Nobody knows how butterflies will react to the pockets if they fly into them, he said.

McCracken noted the low-pressure effect is newly discovered. “It’s something nobody predicted.”

The wind farm off Long Point combined with other projects proposed for the American side would form a wall of turbines that would be hazardous not only to butterflies but also bats and birds migrating to and from the Long Point area, Petrie added.

“If all the turbines proposed on the Canada and U.S. sides are built on and offshore, we are probably in store for a major disruption of the migration of birds,” he warned.

14 thoughts on “Monarch’s fate up in the air

  1. A quote from Michael Ignatieff today, “And it must say that a government that breaks the rules and conceals facts from the Canadian people does not deserve to remain in office.”
    I think he was targeting the Ontario Liberal Party with this comment don’t you?

  2. Attaboy, Scottie! Attaboy!!

    To learn more about the absolutely awesome numbers that sweep down the Erie shoreline and out across the lake, be sure to read the following nail-biting thriller: ….especially the part about HALF A MILLION monarch butterflies fluttering offshore of Point Pelee in 1996.

    And McCraken is wrong — we do know how high they fly: monarchs are known to fly almost at water level all the way up the air column into the nether regions where they catch upper wind streams to save energy. NOWHERE is safe for them if an obstacle is in the way.

    Planting IWTs close inshore or offshore is especially bad because most of the roosting butterflies start out at low altitudes as they move away from land. And they are often caught out in mid-lake squalls where many perish and are washed into shore. The last thing they need is more “killers” in the form of 400 ft high wind choppers.

  3. Industrial Wind Turbines are frivolous machines, and we seem like petty humans. Disrupting migration patterns for a couple volts! How many bird,bat and butterfly carcasses do you need to feed these machines to make them worthwhile?
    Earth Day should be a day of mourning for all the lives lost and those suffering from Industrial Wind Turbines.

  4. Butterflies and wind choppers are the obvious problem but that is not the only impact. The Industrial Size Wind Turbines create their own wind patterns, which would create an immense area of impact to the butterflies, which cannot deal with that kind of turbulence. IWTs would create a wall of hostile wind patterns. It would not take long when Monarch’s would be struggling to survive on this planet.

  5. Thank you Scott Petrie especially on behalf of those of use who do not have this information at our disposal.

    Like many, many other people, despite a love of nature and a longstanding commitment to conservation – I am not well informed about many of these issues and I appreciate, very much, others, like you, who share a wealth of information with us.

    It helps me continue to build confidence in a growing rejection of Industrial Wind Turbines – outright.

  6. Notsogulable

    Sorry about your petty concern. If butterfly numbers decline I’m sure the Liberals will put forward a billion dollars (tax payers dollars) to catch the butterflies and drive them to Mexico. This would increase the numbers as they won’t get caught in the grills of cars and trucks on the way. Maybe they can get special garden tours on the way to fill there bellies. 1000 bucks a year should cover it per tax payer. And for a little more money we could set up a similar program for bats and migratory birds. (Also the gun registry would be cheaper if game birds disappeared)

  7. “We think the province is quite wise curtailing this (offshore
    wind farms) pending further scientific reveiw”. Well Duhh!!!
    If Jon McCracken really beleives that to be the reason the
    lying Liberals temporarily stopped offshore wind turbine
    developments, then I`m afraid he is anything but wise. In fact he`s either a diehard Liberal supporter or a brain dead idiot. THERE WILL BE NO SCIENTIFIC REVEIWS JON only a
    fall election!!! Then look out. If the Lib.Bastards win offshore
    IWTs will immediately be a go! That`s a cold hard fact Jon,
    because Liberals are Lying Theiving Bastards,hellbent on the total destruction of a once(pre-McGuinty) great province, now a welfare bumming dictatorship. Doug Moran

  8. Right you are, zen2then! I actually meant the same conclusion i.e. the offshore IWTs will effectively act as knock-them-down wind squalls and whip the poor little butterflies down into the water….where they drown.

  9. Butterflies, whales, birds bats they are all…

    Whales? Whales???? Whaaaattt?

    Now there are some people who might think that there was something just a teeny bit overdone about the “Skeptic” gang’s self-righteous fury over the nitpicking issue of whether Professor Boyd of St Andrews University did or didn’t mean that wind farms are deleterious to the health of whales.

    After all, whether or not wind farms harm cetaceans, we do know beyond all reasonable doubt that wind farms:

    Despoil countryside, frighten horses, chop up birds, spontaneously combust, drive down property prices, madden those who live nearby with their subsonic humming, drive up electricity prices, promote rentseeking, make rich landowners richer (and everyone else poorer), ruin views, buy more electric sports cars for that dreadful Dale Vince character, require rare earth minerals which cause enormous environmental damage, destroy 3.7 real jobs for every fake “green” job they “create”, blight neighbourhoods, kill off tourism and ruin lives.

    So isn’t it, you might argue, ever so slightly odd to get so het up over the issue as to whether or not they harm whales too? Isn’t a bit like getting worked up about what you believe is the false, nay slanderous accusation that Charles Manson once failed to pay his library fine on an overdue copy of Revolution In The Head; or like taking umbrage on behalf of the late child-eating Emperor Bokassa at the outrageous suggestion that he used to hold his knife like a pen?


    Whooodddaaa thunk it?

    “Wind farms” harm Whales….?????

    Ban them!

  10. What Ontario needs is an enema to remove everything that is relative to the wind industry and of it’s people, in order to restore Ontario to a point in time where the combination of words such as “wind turbines” was the furthest thing away in the minds of Ontarian’s.

    As an example, lets use 1994. In 1994 the Ontario government signed a Declaration of Support of the designation of the Grand River as a Heritage River. One of the specific purposes of the Grand Strategy was to develop and properly manage the Grand River and its watershed. The mannerism in which the wind industry as festered and transposed itself in Ontario has to be looked at and as well, the Liberal governments buy in, with it’s enactment of the GEA, says it all.

    How many wind farms are there presently operating throughout the Grand River Valley. The wind industry was not and will never ever be part of the Grand Strategy and I am sure it will be the demise of the Grand River’s designation, as a Heritage river.

    I believe now is the time, start professing “Zero Tolerance” towards wind turbines. Long story short “NO WIND TURBINES PERIOD IN ONTARIO”.

    Fact, in the past, we all realize that to survive we had to move forward, as such it was this movement that legislation was developed and enacted upon to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat from the avails of man. As such, man’s activities were only allowed to proceed because the adverse effects of the activity would have been finite upon the environment. The activity was subjected in having limits and or boundaries. In other words, the activity’s site location adverse effects, would only take place from commencement to completion of the activity, wildlife and wildlife habitat is afforded a near natural recovery.

    However please keep this in mind, wind turbines no matter where installed will have an infinite adverse effect on the environment. The infinite adverse effects of a wind power facility will take place from the project’s commencement to decommissioning. There will be a limitless or endless slaughter of flying wildlife at site locations that would and will be impossible to measure and or calculate the accumulative adverse effect upon the environment. Wildlife and wildlife habitat are not afforded any recovery processes. We have legislation that is to prevent this from happening, why is it being over looked?

    Now is the time, start professing “Zero Tolerances” towards wind turbines in Ontario, long story short “NO WIND TURBINES PERIOD IN ONTARIO PEROID, if there is anything to be professed about wind turbines is that they kill and maim Canada’s wildlife and do not serve the purpose for, as is being conveyed by the industry. Look upon the amount of monies that has been spent and is being spent to circumvent current legislation and of all the smoke and mirrors being created by the politicians in power to achieved this means.


    For anyone who thinks migrating birds can avoid wind turbines have no idea what a migration is. The link above is of a mainly Snow with a few Ross’s and Canadian goose migration on St. Lawrence River happening this spring. Watch the video at the bottom of the photo page. What appears to be moving clouds in the background are not clouds. How do these birds figure out how to avoid turbines? Not hard to imagine the carnage.

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