Bald eagles (yes that’s plural) have been killed in Ontario by wind turbines, and more will continue to meet this fate for the 20 year lifespan of these projects. We knew of only one up until a few days ago. Not that we didn’t suspect there were others, but when the proof is in the hands of the government and the wind developers, you can be sure the public will be the last to find out.
Wind companies have quietly admitted in their reports to killing four bald eagles in Ontario. That’s just the bodies found (tripped over), not factoring in carcasses that have been scavenged and the months upon months that turbine bases just don’t get checked anymore.
X 2009, Norfolk Wind Project – Bald Eagle
X 2012, Talbot Wind Project – Bald Eagle
X 2013, Talbot Wind Project – Bald Eagle
X 2014, Port Dover Wind Project – Bald Eagle
Did the government fine the wind companies for any of these deaths? Of course not. Wind companies get “permission” to kill bald eagles. And bobolinks. And little brown bats. Anything you can imagine they can kill with impunity.
Last week we received these bird and bat mortality reports through an FOI. Something that we noticed going through them is that rules change – where to collect, when to collect, how long to collect. None of this is consistent. Wind companies go bankrupt, sell out, change names. So it’s no wonder that the Ministry of Natural Resources loses track of the ‘big picture’. Jim told me that he was absolutely certain there were NO cumulative impact studies on the bird and bat kills by wind turbines. He also hadn’t heard of many of the wind developments I had on the list… and he was the MNRF’s Renewable Energy coordinator.
I can see why: there is no consistent methodology, nobody checking to see if a wind developer even submitted a report to the MNRF. And even if they do get reports, they get ‘lost’, which is what happened with the Summerhaven project for a one of the years I was looking for. Even the ‘math’ changes – formulas vary from year to year.
Deaths are hidden in all this mess. My brother Dan added up the total raptor kills, because the summaries didn’t take into account raptor bodies found further than 50m from the base of a turbine, or found at a turbine they weren’t supposed to check for bodies, or found in a month they weren’t supposed to look for bodies.
Problem is, you can’t ignore a bald eagle body on the ground, or osprey, peregrine falcon, or owl. So what do you do? Well you call them “incidental deaths” and keep them out of the final count – their death just simply didn’t “happen”. That’s right, because their body was flung too far when they were hit by the turbine blade, or because they hit the wrong turbine, or the turbine hit them in the wrong month – their bodies don’t count.
Now that might not sound like it makes much of a difference, a bird fatality here or there in the count, but boy does it ever.
For example, take a look at how things tally up at Eireau Wind Project:
Eight raptors were killed, right? That’s what they say.
Now, watch this magic trick – the wind company is going to make those bodies… disappear!!
Can you believe it? Right before your very eyes, all those bodies (5 turkey vultures, 2 red tailed hawks, and another unidentifiable raptor) POOF …gone.
How did they do it? Well they explain their convoluted system here, kinda (actually, I think they made this up. Never believe a magician):
Right, it’s because the “purpose” of bothering to pick up the raptor bodies and tell anyone about them is to see if there are any turbines in particular that are bad “killers”. You can still find 8 bodies and write down “0” if you are only looking for a pattern….right?
This isn’t something that just happened in one project –
- NextEra’s Bluewater: “We killed only 1 raptor!” – vs reality of 5 bodies collected.
- Capital Power’s Port Dover: “We only killed 1 raptor!” – vs reality of… 7 bodies found.
- Actually the year before they didn’t find any raptor bodies either ! (Well, in reality they found 2…)
- (take a look through the summary – you’ll see this happened over and over again with both raptors and Species at Risk.)
Then there’s that time when your wind project kills an Osprey, 2 Red tailed Hawks & 2 Turkey Vultures – ALL in 11 days. Suncor can’t understand how this could happen in their Adelaide project, so they tell us it’s an “anomaly” and couldn’t possibly happen again.
Except it already has happened again – by another company who’s project overlaps Suncor’s. NextEra’s Adelaide killed 9 raptors that same summer of 2015. Chances are it happened the next year, and will happen every year after – for 20 years, or until they run out of raptors in Adelaide. Some anomaly.
This is just a little glimpse into what is in these FOI reports. We really could have used this data when fighting our Tribunal appeals, but alas… this data was not out there for public use, it was confidentially kept in the coffers of the wind developer, the MNRF and Bird Studies Canada.
Speaking of which – wouldn’t it be nice to see Bird Studies Canada start talking like the American Bird Conservancy about such things?
We believe the public has a right to know how many birds and bats are being killed by wind energy projects. https://t.co/kZBr3Db4xv
— Amer. Bird Conserv. (@ABCbirds1) January 23, 2017