Help Fund FOI Request: Release Wind Turbine Bird & Bat Mortality Data!

UPDATE: Wow! Rural Ontario pitched in the whole $625 and more in less than a day!! Thank you so much! ~  Esther

The bill came in. I haven’t decided if this is good or bad news yet, but at least it is ‘progress.’ The Freedom of Information office sent an ‘estimate’ for the retrieval of all the wind turbine bird and bat mortality reports in Ontario to date. I had forwarded the MNRF a list of over 110 wind projects in Ontario ’cause the government doesn’t have a list of all these energy plants (do they have a list of all the nuclear plants, I wonder?). There is certainly no guarantee they have mortality reports for some of them, but whatever they have, we want to see.

The bill is roughed in at $625. Yeah, really it should be $0 and the government should just be posting these reports on their website, but we can’t wait for pigs to fly when raptors, and endangered bat and birds are being knocked to the ground daily by these machines.foi-estimate

I’ve asked for this in specific:

“All final, annual post-construction mortality monitoring reports for birds and bats (or last available draft, if there is no final) for the wind power projects in Ontario.”


“Records related to the MNRF permit granted to destroy a bald eagle’s nest within the NextEra Summerhaven Wind Project.”

They say it will come roughly to 28,000 pages released, if they can find them.

gofundmeCould you please help by sending what you can to cover these costs, and share the page with those who would like to see these reports made public? When the documents eventually arrive (it will take a few months) I will parse them and post them on the Google Drive here so everyone can easily access, review and use them. Have a look through the reports we have listed there already – they are eye opening, and rage inducing.

Visit the GoFundMe page to read more about the issue of hidden bird and bat mortality data in this province. We can’t let this go on any longer – if we don’t get the numbers out there, nobody will.

Oh yeah, and I’ve asked the MPP’s to pitch in too, since they are all about “open government”… see below.


Dear Ontario MPP’s,

We have to talk.

It is no longer a matter of guessing what wind turbines ‘might do’ to Ontario’s birds and bats – you know what’s happening. Or, you should know. Wind developers have been filing bird and bat mortality reports with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for many years now. So, what do those numbers look like? Oh. Right… nobody really knows because they get filed away – far far away – from public scrutiny.

trade secretsI left Ontario two years ago when wind turbines destroyed our land, and the habitat for all animals, including us. But I did not forget about the destruction that was taking place in my absence. I suppose I was hoping (as I usually do, hope is healthy, but rarely rewarded in Ontario politics) that the MNRF, or the media, or the researchers, or the nature organizations – somebody! – would keep a close eye on the bird and bat kill rates from these machines. I expected this, because I know that when LNG killed 7500 birds in New Brunswick in 2013, the world knew, as they should, and the company was fined $750,000 under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Other industries have been held accountable for bird kills too – especially if Species at Risk are involved.

Not so for the wind industry in Ontario. Nope, wind developers obliterate an area’s raptor population in several months. If it relates to wind turbines – those deaths don’t even “happen,” it’s all in your imagination.


Frankly I’ve had enough of this. I’ve filed a Freedom of Information request for all the bird and bat mortality reports in Ontario wind projects. Hey, quick question: Do you know how many wind projects are in Ontario? I’ll give you a second to Google it, or look it up in your government files, but I don’t think you’ll find the answer because there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive list of them anywhere. I tallied over 110 wind projects in Ontario. What are the chances someone is actually overseeing all the dead birds and bats found around the bases at all these wind projects. The MNRF didn’t even know of many of the wind projects I listed for them. 

After three years of operation the wind companies don’t have to file these reports anyway, unless they went over their “limit” of kills. That’s a problem, because from the few reports I’ve seen, they go over the limit/threshold all the freakin’ time. In fact this very recent research article says that the average bat kill at an Ontario wind project is 24.5bats/wind turbine.

bat-killed-by-wind-turbine-bladesBack to the guessing game: Just how many bats does the government allow to be killed by a turbine? Answer: 10 bats.  So the wind companies are currently killing, on average, over double the number of “permitted bats kills” per turbine! 

Um, pardon me, but why the hell hasn’t there been a major uproar over this fact in legislature? Is it perhaps because the government isn’t even reviewing these facts, these data? Is it because a cumulative impact study on bird and bat population hasn’t even been contemplated by this government, ever?

I can tell you that my former home in Adelaide lost nine raptors in just five months last year, from just one of the wind projects there. Five of them were red tailed hawks, the other four were turkey vultures. I doubt there are many, if any, hawks left. This one simple fact saddens and enrages me. But there is more. Swallows are taking a huge hit – purple martins in the Summerhaven project. And the Threatened barn swallow – it’s one of the Top 15 killed in Ontario. What happens when NextEra, or Suncor, or Enbridge kills a Species at Risk? Do they get investigated? Do they get fined? Or do they just get another “permit destroy” like they did for the bald eagle nest in Haldimand County three years ago.

This is how serious Ontario really takes the environment.

If you are saying, “Oh no Esther, you have it all wrong. We are transparent. We are doing everything we can to help the environment,” then I have a simple request for you. Do one of two things, or do both. A) Make it mandatory that bird and bat mortality reports are made public, for free (past and present). B) Donate to cover my Freedom of Information costs. I’m doing the government’s job, so it would be nice to see the government pitch in a few bucks for this lapse in being an “open government”. Even you can have access to all these reports on a simple Google Drive link. It’s not rocket science to make it happen. It just takes a will.


Esther Wrightman
St. Andrews, NB

PS – Re. the raptors killed in Adelaide, you should know that NextEra’s little 2-page public summary states they killed only 2 raptors. But the full report retrieved through my FOI states 9 — the 7 other carcasses were found outside the meagre 50m from the wind turbine base search area, or during times the carcass collectors weren’t regularly collecting, and for some reason those bodies don’t count. But, hey, they can say they are under the “threshold” of what they are allowed to kill! (Of course they are way the hell over the limit if they actually used the real numbers they found, but then, again, who’s watching?)

4 thoughts on “Help Fund FOI Request: Release Wind Turbine Bird & Bat Mortality Data!

  1. Thanks so much for this Esther. Right from the get go the MNR documents were downplaying the likelihood of significant mortalities by suggesting only 2 bird deaths/turbine were typical for N.A.. The whole process seemed designed to not show there was “a problem”.
    Soon after the GEA was announced I spoke with a biologist from one of the companies doing the mandatory studies for the developers. He said it was a joke and that the gov’t had no idea how to deal with it, but rushed on regardless. He shook his head over the pathetically small setback to significant habitat, acknowledging there was no scientific basis.

  2. Thank you Esther.
    On May11 2016 I was south bound on rt 21 near Underwood Ontario which is just south of Port Elgin. I watched as the giant windmill blades spun around because that stretch of road is long and straight and they are visible in all directions. The sun was setting behind the windmill to my west and I could see something caught going round and round with the blade. Not in any rush after supper I stopped near Tennyson’s and saw it was a bird caught in some kind of vortex that it could not get out of. After a few minutes I saw it get flung way up into the sky and then as it pitched and yawed and flew all crazy the confused bird managed to perch on the top of a hydro pole. When I got close enough to take some pictures with my phone it was long into dusk but I did get one grainy photo of a windmill vortex survivor. My flash could not light up the top of the pole but the bird was still there in the dark when I left maybe a half hour later.
    Can anyone explain to me why those windmills that put out maybe 20mw altogether are within eyesight of a nuclear power station putting out 6300mw?

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