A month after a pair of Bald Eagles had their nest removed by a Canadian energy company, wind farms in the USA will now be immune from prosecution if they inadvertently kill the raptors.
Last month a pair of Bald Eagles had their nest removed from Summerhaven Wind Project wind power site near Fisherville, Ontario, Canada. The location is ultimately projected to support 56 wind turbines and be operated by NextEra Energy Canada, the largest North American producer of wind and solar power. The nest was well within Ontario’s Natural Resources Ministry recommended “minimum setback of 800 m from a renewable energy project component to a Bald Eagle nest”, but despite this, on 4 January the ministry issued a permit for NextEra to remove the nest and a large part of the nest tree the very next day. The company stated that removing the nest in the first days of January would allow the eagles time to seek an alternative location and “avoid disturbing them during their critical nesting period.”
While the Canadian incident may be a one-off, in the USA Bald and Golden Eagles have been shown to be at continued risk from being killed by wind energy projects, but in consequence the US Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed providing wind companies with extended and generous 30-year permits for the ‘programmatic take’ of eagles.
This is essentially a rule-loosening manoeuvre as, currently, the federal government allows renewable energy companies to get permits to avoid prosecution for the loss of a limited number of eagles as part of their normal operations – that is, through wind turbines and power lines – if they also promise to offset the damage. Read article