Wind developers deploy ultrasonic units to ‘jam’ bat echolocation

NextEra is sticking Ultrasonic Units on their Jericho, Goshen and Bluewater wind turbines for the purpose of deterring bats from flying near them.

Perhaps this wouldn’t piss me off so much if pre-construction they had absolutely no idea that bats were going to be killed by their machines.

But they did. And they built them anyways. Now what is their solution?

To “jam” (their word) the bat’s echolocation with ultrasonic frequencies. Then they won’t be able to communicate or know where the fuck (yeah I’m mad) they are flying, and will hopefully flee to some non-turbine infested area, if they still exist anywhere locally. I believe this is called “habitat displacement”, which Dr. Scott Petrie warned all the wind developers of over and over for the past half dozen years.

Ah, but NextEra and their ilk are “good green corporate citizens” – they wouldn’t take part in something so repulsive as this, would they? They did it to humans so maybe…

The problem for the wind company is not the laborious and tedious job of picking up all the dead bat carcasses (a bloody pain I suspect though), it’s the horrid “mitigation” that they are forced to do when they exceed the “kill threshold” of birds, bats and raptors set by the Ministry of Natural Resources – they are exceeding them all the freakin’ time!

Supposedly the MNR will sometimes make the wind companies that exceed their kill limits, “curtail” (shut down) their turbines during peak migration, night or in low winds when the bats are out and about. (Honestly I highly doubt anyone is watching or monitoring, but lets give them the benefit of the doubt here). That lost production really sucks for the wind companies ’cause they are loosing way too much $$. Every little penny counts for their greedy little hearts.

Again, the problem is not the killing of Endangered Species (which is what is happening, with impunity), that doesn’t bother the wind company at all or they would shut their turbines down most willingly.

Instead they employ these fancy new Ultrasonic blasters to scare those little buggers away. Because that’s what good neighbours do when they come to a land full of Endangered Species. They wreck their homes. You know, like eagle nests and stuff.

Here’s their sales pitch:

“Instead of curtailing to avoid take, deter bats from the turbine”
(“Take”, for those unfamiliar with the lingo, is “kill”. Sounds nicer, eh? Note also this is all about avoiding curtailment, not avoiding bat kill, and certainly not avoiding destruction of habitat!)

“Many bats rely on echolocation for orienting, foraging and communication – Echolocation “jamming” most effective defense against bats ever documented.”(So they recognize what the bats needs to survive, and then wallop them with a baseball bat. Note also they use the negative wording, “defence against bats”. That shows their true colours on this issue.)

“Deterrent units create a broad range of frequencies to deter different bat species”
(Oh well, wind developers know all about ‘broad ranges of frequencies’ to deter human beings, so I believe them!)

Here’s another thought. How is a wind developer, or anyone for that matter, permitted to disrupt an Endangered Species habitat like this? What exactly is the purpose of the supposed protection of the Act if wind developers are allowed to kill, harm, harass and maim them as much as they want?! Aren’t developers usually penalized for this kind of deliberate destruction?

~ Esther

NextEra freely handed permit to destroy Bald Eagle nest: FOI records

Have a good look at these recent and disturbing pictures posted on Canadian Raptor Conservancy’s Facebook.

  • Eagle Nest location: Port Ryerse
  • Wind Developer: Boralex

Flashback much?

Who does one go to when you see wind turbines installed this close to an active nest? You know it’s just a matter of time before the residents of that nest get added to this list of carcasses found in Ontario under wind turbines:

X 2009, Norfolk Wind Project – Bald Eagle

2012, Talbot Wind Project –Bald Eagle

2013, Talbot Wind Project – Bald Eagl

2014, Port Dover Wind Project – Bald Eagle

You want to help. The government makes all the rules and regulations for what any person/developer can do around important habitat like this, so they are the first you think of. Except… that they have a really bad track record on this.

Okay, lets say you go to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), as some good citizens did in November 2012. I’ll take you back there.

Warning, this is a long one, there is no other way to write it, so grab a drink.


***Last year I filed an Freedom of Information request with the MNRF for all correspondence relating to the Haldimand eagle nest destruction by NextEra Energy. I wanted to see what the hell was happening in their heads, and head offices. You can see all the files received from the FOI on this Google Drive: Bald Eagle Nest Destruction NextEra MNRF.

Somewhere around November 19th, 2012 the MNRF had it’s first glimpse at an issue they hadn’t dealt with before. Letters from residents in rural Haldimand County had landed on their desk – they were asking that the MNRF intervene with Florida based wind turbine developer NextEra’s construction around an active Bald Eagle nest.

The MNR wasn’t quite sure what to do. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act said:

7.  (1)  A person shall not destroy, take or possess the nest or eggs of a bird that belongs to a species that is wild by nature.  1997, c. 41, s. 7 (1).

But there were also exemptions made for “special” people/corporations in need of favours:

(3)  Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who destroys, takes or possesses the nest or eggs of a bird described in that subsection,
(a)in accordance with the authorization of the Minister

Ah yes, and that was the dilemma the MNRF faced. This appeared to concern at least Erin in her query to her co-worker. But that’s the last “concern” you will see from this Ministry.

The public kept the pressure on, sending pictures and maps. Surely to God the MNRF would intervene and save the nest…?

That day, December 4th, the MNRF Manager asked Jim Beal and Joad Durst, “…how quickly we can we pull this (a response to the public) together”. They knew an eagle nest was protected under the Renewable Energy Act (REA) – if the nest was noticed during the Natural Heritage Assessment (NHA). But the company missed this nest in their NHA – was that as good as saying the nest “wasn’t there”? Should NextEra have to move their road and turbine plans now, they would have to go through the Ministry of Environment’s (MOE) amendment process all over again – and that would cost wind company time and money. NextEra wanted to build now, and they were going to get their way.  Continue reading

Bats stand in the way of wind turbines

The Enterprise Bulletin
COLLINGWOOD – Citizen scientists have proven beyond a doubt there is a population of endangered little brown bats in the area where wpd Canada Inc. plans to erect eight 500-foot wind turbines. Evidence from three bat biologists was presented at the Feb. 28 appeal hearing of the Environmental Review Tribunal chaired by Dirk Vander Bent with panel member Hugh Wilkins in the Collingwood council chamber Feb. 28.

Witness and bat ecologist Sarah Mainguy said building turbines on the Clearview Township property would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the endangered species. She was a witness for Preserve Clearview, a citizen group fighting the turbines. Mainguy provided the panel with a map showing the prevalence of habitat of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and other species in the wind turbine area in Clearview Township.

She said citizen scientists Betty Schneider and Susan Richardson collected 2,000 bat call recordings obtained over 43 nights from different houses. “I went through the recordings to identify myotis. I screened all the calls and came up with the conclusion that 152 calls were identified as myotis and 146 were confident of myotis, all of which are endangered,” she said. Mainguy said the women were not allowed on Beattie family land where the turbines would be built but were allowed on other properties in the near vicinity.

“We knew there were myotis but there are more than was earlier suggested. They are reasonably spread out in the area in red brick houses, which is their favourite.”

wpd has not provided information on where the bats are located, she added. “We feel there is a large gap in the information provided in the pre-construction studies on where the bats are located. I feel this is a considerable gap especially in light of us finding quite a large number of bats,” she said. Read article

Dear NextEra, Destroy the eagle nest, just do it by Sunday. ~ Love, Ministry of Natural Resources

I’m still going through the NextEra eagle nest destruction FOI documents and will post them all as soon as I can. But so far I’d say this e-mail from the MNR to NextEra, on New Years Day (when we know everyone is at work, right?), delivering the permit to destroy the nest, says it all.

Oh, and how long do you think it took them to get this permit? Well, NextEra submitted a request on December 28th (Saturday afternoon…), and four days later they had it in their hot little hands. Now that’s service!!

Four Bald Eagles Killed by Wind Turbines in Ontario

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. Continue reading

Wind Turbine Bird & Bat Mortality Reports, with Summary – Ontario, Canada

Below is a summary Maureen kindly assembled from all of the reports retrieved through the FOI. Have a good hard look at the numbers per project. Individually, these projects have got off scot free – they have never been challenged, never been questioned, never been charged, or even slapped on the wrist for these astounding kills. Dan tallied the actual raptor deaths on the right hand side, as many raptor deaths were ignored as “incidental” – not killed at the right time/place…more on that later. There is much more to glean from these reports – please share what you gather. This is a draft that will be added to and amended as we go.

Click here to download and view in full screen

Bird-and-Bat-Mortality-v012417-Sheet2

 

Full list of Bird and Bat Mortality Reports

Say NO to Double Standard on Species at Risk Penalties!

In the last few days these three stories came out. Please read them, and then respond to those who are failing to protect these Species at Risk below. 

1. Penalty for Canaport songbird deaths

…The deaths of thousands of songbirds at the Canaport LNG terminal more than three years ago resulted in a $750,000 penalty against the company… In September 2013, thousands of birds were drawn to a 10-to-15-metre gas flare during a period of fog and low cloud. Twenty-six species of migratory birds died, including four Canada warblers, a threatened species…

2. Former Liberal Pres. Crawley built worst ‘bat killing wind farm’ in Canada: 85 bats killed/turbine/yr

…This was an AIM PowerGen/International Power Corporation project – whose president is none other than the past Federal and Ontario Federal Liberal Party President Mike Crawley. It was approved  in 2009, and pretty much nothing more was said about it since. Which is so wrong. Let me explain. The “five” reports stuck out because usually (if the project is not killing over the ‘limits’ set by the government) there are only three reports. That means some ‘mitigation reporting’ was happening, for some reason. Well that reason became pretty obvious within seconds of looking at the 2011 report. How does 85.42 bats killed per wind turbine strike you? Or how about 53.1% of them being the Endangered Little Brown Bat?…

3. Minister says thanks but no thanks, to wind energy review pleas

…McKenna wrote that current research shows wind turbines kill relatively few birds when compared to cats, windows on buildings, vehicles and transmission lines.”Monitoring studies of existing wind farms in Ontario have shown that while some birds are incidentally killed, mortality rates as well as cumulative mortality of species that have been found incidentally killed to date are not likely to have a biologically significant impact on provincial population levels of those species,” McKenna wrote. “However, it is possible that turbine sites in areas with important populations of some species at risk could have impacts on those populations.”…


***Send a message to the key decision makers by filling out the form below with your own comments or copy and paste the following message into the comment section below:

The other day I read that LNG was fined $750,000 for killing 4 Species at Risk (SAR) in New Brunswick. Fair enough.

But I also read the 2011 Bird and Bat Mortality Report for the Mohawk Point Wind project in Haldimand County. It appears that this wind company killed around 270 SAR, in just one season. To be more specific – it was the Endangered Little Brown Bat that was all but wiped out by this project’s 6 wind turbines.

And I’m left wondering why this wind company wasn’t fined. In fact, I’m wondering why they were allowed to continue to operate year after year ever since. Even with mitigation measures, they were only able to bring the kill rate of the bats down to 24.27 bats/turbine/year by 2013 – over double the allowed limit in Ontario. Several years later now, it appears no government agency is even counting the deaths there anymore – they are just happening, and those who know, turn a blind eye.

This project continues to operate, and kill SAR, with impunity. Please explain to me the reason for the double standard. Or if it isn’t a double standard, and somehow the government just missed this violation, I might as will give you this link (below) to all the other wind turbine Bird/Bat mortality reports in Ontario, because there are hundreds of SAR that have been killed in these reports, and none of the operators have ever been penalized at all. So of course they continue their operations as usual.

Canadian Wind Turbine Bird and Bat Mortality Reports https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B24A4SH_cewXV0VhTENxTGp3LVk

I’m frankly sick and tired of watching wind developers get off scot free for this kind of slaughter that’s happening before our very eyes. If it’s wrong for LNG to kill endangered species, it’s wrong for all the wind companies in Canada to kill them as well. Apply the law consistently!

Awaiting your reply,

Subject: No Double Standard on Species at Risk Penalties! 


Form will be sent to:

  • Fed. Min. of Environment: Catherine McKenna
  • Fed. Min. of Natural Resources: Jim Carr
  • Fed. Conservative Environment critic: Ed Fast
  • Fed. Conservative Natural Resources critic: Candice Bergen
  • Ontario Min. Natural Resources: Kathryn McGarry
  • Ontario Min. of Environment: Glenn Murray
  • Ontario PC Natural Resources critic: Todd Smith
  • Ontario PC Environment critic: Lisa Thompson
  • Ontario PC Leader: Patrick Brown
  • Ontario PC Energy critic: John Yakabuski, Energy Critic,
  • Ontario NDP Natural Resources critic: Gilles Bisson

Here they are: Wind Turbine Bird/Bat Mortality Reports in Ontario to date

We did it! It’s hard to believe that most of these documents were kept from public view until now.  I think there are reports for 57 different wind project listed here in Canada.

170+ documents arrived two days ago. I’ve posted the bird and bat mortality reports up on the public google drive anyone can see and download them.

The Freedom of Information office was helpful and diligent and even reversed an earlier decision that had redacted Species at Risk Information.

In the coming days I’ll also post documents and correspondence that I have yet to assemble on how and why the active bald eagle nest in Haldimand County was destroyed by NextEra. I can only take so much government crap at once, and that was one big manure load…

Thank you all so much for helping make this happen.

Think about it – the last report like this that was voluntarily released by a wind company was 3 years ago! Then the wind developers and government must have decided that wasn’t good PR, or good for the tribunal hearings against them, so they kept the rest of them hidden.

YOU helped make these public so that journalists, researches and the residents that lives amongst these monster machines can see what it going on and, most importantly, hold them accountable! These are no longer “trade secrets” for the industry.

Read them over, get on then phone and read the whole damn thing to your MPP, or the Minister of Natural Resources, or good ‘ol Glenn Murray (if he hasn’t blocked you yet), or how about Dianne Saxe (LOL! I know, but she is the supposed Environment Commissioner). Use them in appeals, in letters to the editor, in educating your neighbours and the nature societies (hm, could Suzuki ever be interested?), and don’t forget to slap them on the table in front of your municipal representatives and ask them if THIS is what the township is accepting blood money in exchange for.

~Esther

Summary of Reports so far (click here to download and view in full screen)

(This list scrolls down – go all the way until you reach Wolfe Island)

 

Former Liberal Pres. Crawley built worst ‘bat killing wind farm’ in Canada: 85 bats killed /turbine/yr

Yesterday the CD arrived with loads of Bird and Bat Mortality Reports that I had filed an FOI from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for last year, and you good people had funded. I’m slowly organizing and will get them all posted shortly.

But for starters I came across five reports for Mohawk Point Wind Project, a 6 turbine project in Haldimand County. I didn’t know much about this one – it was never in the news… sort of flew under the radar. It came on around the time of the Clear Creek turbines in Norfolk County.

This was an AIM PowerGen/International Power Corporation project – whose president is none other than the past Federal and Ontario Federal Liberal Party President Mike Crawley. It was approved  in 2009, and pretty much nothing more was said about it since.

Which is so wrong. Let me explain. The “five” reports stuck out because usually (if the project is not killing over the ‘limits’ set by the government) there are only three reports. That means some ‘mitigation reporting’ was happening, for some reason.

Well that reason became pretty obvious within seconds of looking at the 2011 report.

How does 85.42 bats killed per wind turbine strike you?

Or how about 53.1% of them being the Endangered Little Brown Bat?

Perhaps I’m too soft, but my thinking is 25 bats per turbine is atrocious (I mean, 10 is the MNRF’s limit). And as for Little Browns, they usually only make up a percent or two – not HALF of the kill! It’s an endangered species for crying out loud!

Okay, based on these insane numbers, why didn’t they SHUT DOWN the project? Oh they mitigated instead, and they believe they brought it down to a more reasonably atrocious number of 24.27 bats killed per wind turbine/year by 2013. That puts you all at ease, doesn’t it? I mean shouldn’t we be happy for the success of this ‘mitigation’ even though it is still double the legal limit?

Not so fast. Think about this – female Little Browns have just one offspring a year. After 5 years of 6 turbines decimating 85 bats each (give or take), how many do you really think are left in those local colonies? Pretty damn sure that number is dropping rapidly by the oh-so-natural process of “wind turbine selection”.

And as for you, dear Crawely, at least you have the current claim of creating the biggest bat killing “farm” in the country. Now that should make the green Liberals proud.

Esther Wrightman

[With only an initial look at some reports I hope this is as bad as it gets for bat kills in this country. As the bird and bat mortality reports are slowly uncovered, the numbers just seem to get worse and worse. I never imagined it could get this low, but then again nobody was releasing this info to the public, so how were we to know? Maybe some company will outdo Crawley on this one yet…heck, maybe even some of Crawley’s other projects could claim this title too…]

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.

adelaide-raptor-2015-kill

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.  Continue reading

Hiding evidence of the massacre

Save the Eagles International
News of bird and bat deaths at wind farms have reduced to a trickle. Does that mean that a solution has been found? Yes, it has, but it’s not what you think. Wind turbines are every year more numerous and the massacre they cause is ever increasing. What has changed is that the cover up is now effective at 100%, or just about.

The following news sheds light on the latest technique for making mortality data unavailable to the public (and the media): Wind farm sues to block bird death data

Yes, you read correctly: “releasing (the wind farm’s) bird and bat kill reports would provide “trade secrets” to its competitors”. Surrealist, isn’t it? But that’s only one of the many lies we must deal with when investigating that hugely subsidized industry. Below, we present the “trade secrets” they are trying to hide:trade secrets

Indeed, in present day United States, mortality data legally belong to wind farm owners, and the public has no right to see the numbers without their permission. This is the “solution” that has been found for covering up the butchery of eagles, cranes, pelicans, condors, swans, swallows, bats, owls, falcons, hawks, geese, gamebirds, songbirds etc.

Throughout the world, ever since shocking mortality statistics at wind farms made the news 15-20 years ago, efforts have been made by the wind industry and complicit governments to hide the numbers. In the UK for instance, wind farms have long stopped being monitored for mortality; in Spain, the monitoring has been done, but the reports were filed away without publishing; elsewhere, whenever a wind farm had to be checked for mortality, its owner would select ornithology consultants based on their reputation for “cooperation” – i.e. whose reports always showed “manageable” numbers. This is still the preferred method for covering up in some countries, e.g. Canada or Australia.

To make it even safer for European wind developers, and regardless of the proclaimed right of the public to be informed on environmental matters (Aarhus Convention), reports concerning wind farms’ impact on birds and bats were soon stamped “property of the developer”, meaning that he may edit them before publication. “The wind companies rewrite all ecological work themselves“, said to me a UK ornithologist who had worked for wind developers. But a non-disclosure clause in the contract kept him from revealing publicly what he knew and what he saw. This is now standard practice in wind farm monitoring contracts. Read article

Bat-ageddon: Wind Industry Slaughters Millions of Bats – all to ‘Save’ the Planet

CNSPhoto-Munro-BatsStop These Things
No Ticks Zone
Kenneth Richard
Bats are known to be some of the world’s savviest aerial acrobats. Using their mysterious sonar system and shape-shifting wings, bats adeptly swerve and swoop and dive in flight to avoid collisions with both stable and moving objects.

And yet bats stand no chance against a 200-meter high wind turbine with blades the length of a football field, spinning at speeds up to 275 km per hour. Even if their tiny bodies can avoid a blunt-force collision with one of these merciless steel beasts, just the act of drawing near to a wind turbine may nonetheless expose bats to jarring air pressure changes that cause fatal lung damage (barotrauma).  The latter is the main reason why bat carcasses can be found scattered beneath wind turbines at locations across the world.

dead-bat-at-turbineThe slaughtering of bats by wind turbines isn’t slowing down; it’s getting worse. The 21st century wind turbine bat-killing rate has already begun to seriously threaten the long-term survival of the world’s 172 endangered bat species. According to scientists publishing in the journal Mammal Review (O’Shea et al., 2016), the spinning blades of wind turbines (together with white noise syndrome) are now the leading cause of multiple mortality events in bats.

O’Shea et al., 2016

Two factors led to a major shift in causes of MMEs [multiple mortality events] in bats at around 2000: the global increase of industrial wind-power facilities and the outbreak of white-nose syndrome in North America. Collisions with wind turbines and white-nose syndrome are now the leading causes of reported MMEs [multiple mortality events]  in bats.”

batmortalityCanada: 15.5 bats killed annually by each individual wind turbine 

The global-scale slaughter of bats promises to get even worse in the coming few decades. In Canada alone, for example, scientists Zimmerling and Francis (2016) have determined that an average of 15.5 bats are killed at each individual wind turbine site every year.  At current (2013) installed wind capacity, 15.5 killings per turbine per year means that 47,400 bats are killed annually in Canada.  With the 350% increase in installed wind capacity intended for Canada within the next 15 years, about 166,000 bats are projected to be slaughtered on a yearly basis by about 2030.

Zimmerling and Francis, 2016

Bat mortality due to wind turbines in Canada

On average, 15.5 ± 3.8 (95% CI) bats were killed per turbine per year at these sites (range = 0−103 bats/turbine/yr at individual wind farms). Based on 4,019 installed turbines (the no. installed in Canada by Dec 2013), an estimated 47,400 bats (95% CI = 32,100−62,700) are killed by wind turbines each year in CanadaInstalled wind capacity is growing rapidly in Canada, and is predicted to increase approximately 3.5-fold over the next 15 years, which could lead to direct mortality of approximately 166,000 bats/year. … The little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus), which was listed as Endangered in 2014 under the Species At Risk Act (SARA), accounted for 13% of all mortalities from wind turbines”

batspeciesmortalityontario
Read article

Study calls for 18-km wind turbine setback from lakes to protect birds

turbines-birdsBy John Miner, The London Free Press

It’s a standard that would eliminate almost all of Ontario’s current wind farms and the ones recently approved. In the wake of the release of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service migratory bird study, the American Bird Conservancy is calling for an 18-kilometre buffer around the Great Lakes for wind farms.

“It is highly problematic to build anywhere near the Great Lakes,” Michael Hutchins, director of the American Bird Conservancy’s bird-smart wind energy program, said Monday. “These losses are just not sustainable.”

Using radar designed to detect birds and bats, the Fish and Wildlife Service monitored four sites along the south shore of Lake Ontario in 2013. The results were released last month. Hutchins called the findings of a high level of bird and bat activity in the zone swept by wind turbine blades “a smoking gun” that proves the turbines should not be located close to the lakeshore.

The results from the U.S. study would apply to the Canadian side of the Great Lakes as well, Hutchins said. “There is no reason to assume it wouldn’t be as bad on the (other) side as well because these birds are making their way up to the boreal forest in Canada to breed.” Read article

See more:

The Right to Know: Releasing Wind Turbine Bird & Bat Death Data

red-tailed-hawk1Yesterday I expected to hear of an “Appeal” (we all detest that word now, don’t we) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) request I filed for the Bird and Bat Mortality Reports for three of NextEra Energy’s wind projects several months ago. NextEra had asked the FOI office for extra time to file this appeal, and it had been granted, the deadline being yesterday. But instead, and to my great surprise, a letter came from the FOI office and I could distinctly feel a CD case in it – Oh ya! If it was a “mid-summer-everyones-on-vacation” mistake to send these to me, I don’t want to know about it.

Google Drive Bird Bat Mortality ReportsHere they are: Bird Bat Mortality Reports for NextEra’s Bornish, Adelaide and Summerhaven (more on what they contain in upcoming posts).

I’ve uploaded these documents (and 45 more!) to a public Google Drive folder that anyone can access, view and download. This was the whole point – to make these documents public because our government and the wind companies won’t! Bring some transparency to the bird and bat deaths in Canada! Hold these bloody wind companies accountable for the wildlife slaughter they getting away with! [Keep in mind that this is only partial transparency because the collections and reports are NOT conducted by a third party and are designed to miss a very large portion of the actual deaths. It’s a start, but it’s not the full story by a long shot]

Bird Bat Mortality Monitoring

Google Drive Bird Bat Mortality Reports icons

Recently we filed FOI’s for the rest of the wind turbine Bird/Bat Mortality Reports in Ontario, and Nova Scotia. Some companies in Nova Scotia actually post their reports on their company websites, but those tend to be the smaller co-ops, never the Big Wind companies. New Brunswick, by the way, just sent them to us without us needing to do an FOI. I like that process much better.

Get your reading glasses out and start ripping through these reports. If you are a lawyer, or a reporter, or a biologist, or a birder – we all need your insight and expertise. And if anyone comes across more reports, send them along and I’ll post them.

The other day a helpful contact wrote this to me:

“These are public trust resources being killed. And the public has a right to know.”

I’ll add that it is also our duty to protect them from our own destructive kind in whatever way we can.

~Esther Wrightman

To Protect Birds From Wind Turbines, Look To Hawai‘i’s Approach

red-kite_1596489aAmerican Bird Conservancy, Michael Hutchins
The state of Hawai‘i has an ambitious goal of achieving 100 percent renewable electrical energy by 2045. As some of the most isolated islands in the world, Hawai‘i’s costs for importing oil are very high. A move towards generating renewable electrical energy thus makes a lot of economic and environmental sense.

Unfortunately, this plan is not without its own environmental hazards. It means vastly more wind turbines and solar farms on or around the islands, and one of the biggest challenges is their potential impact on Hawai‘i’s endemic birds and bats.

As result of its long isolation, Hawai‘i is home to many bird species that are found nowhere else in the world. These include threatened and endangered species and subspecies, such as the ‘Alala (Hawaiian Crow), Nene (Hawaiian Goose), Hawaiian Common Gallinule, Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt, Pueo (Hawaiian Short-eared Owl), ‘AkohekoheHawaiian Petrel and many others. At least 95 of Hawai‘i’s unique birds have already gone extinct, making conservation of the remaining endemic species and subspecies a very high priority.

Poorly sited wind energy projects on the mainland are killing hundreds of thousands of birds and bats annually, including threatened and endangered species. In the case of birds, that number goes into the many millions when wind projects’ associated power lines and towers are also taken into consideration. As the number of turbines and power lines increases, these fatalities are mounting every year. The presence of turbines and power lines also drives away many species, including grassland birds and Greater Sage-Grouse, often resulting in brood failure. Read article

Ministry only obliged to collect carcasses for three years, says group opposing wind developments

birdbatmortalitychartLondon Free Press, John Miner
A last-ditch attempt to stop an Oxford County wind farm, based on damage it will do to an endangered species, has run into a wall. The East Oxford Alliance citizen’s group filed an urgent request last week with Environment Minister Glen Murray to stop the Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm because the project will kill little brown bats, a species whose numbers are plunging across North America and is now on Ontario’s and Canada’s endangered lists.

red-tailed-hawk1In a written reply on the minister’s behalf, the director of the ministry’s environmental approvals branch said it is the ministry’s priority to ensure renewable energy projects are developed in a way that will protect human health and the environment. In the case of wind power, clear rules have been established to protect birds, bats and their habitats, Kathleen Hedley wrote.

The Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm, a 10-turbine project in Norwich Township, is required to conduct mortality surveys for at least three years after it starts up. “If thresholds of bird and/or bat mortality are reached, contingency plans can be put in place to reduce impacts and additional monitoring is conducted to ensure the contingency plans are effective,” Hedley wrote.

Disappointed alliance member John Eacott said the bottom line is the wind power company is just required to collect bat and bird carcasses for three years before taking action: “This is the clear rules that Ontario has established — nothing has to be done.” Read article

Eagles’ nest in EDF wind project disappears, questions abound

Where have we seen this before? Several years ago NextEra went in and chopped down an eagle nest in Haldimand Cty that was “in the way,” and ta-da – 3 wind turbines worth millions of dollars could be constructed. In this news story similarities abound as EDF Renewables is chewing over how to proceed with an Illinois wind project that has an eagles’ nest “in the way” of 8-10 wind turbines (worth more millions of dollars) and ta-da, presto-chango nest is gone and all wind turbines can go ahead. How can we not be hugely suspicious!


EaglesConcord Record, Rob Maharry
Last month, a bald eagles’ nest on the property of Mary Katzer in rural western Grundy County vanished after almost four years, and because of the effect that it would have had on the yet to be constructed Ivester Wind Farm, the recent news has received attention from residents and conservation authorities alike. As those involved seek to gather more information and wait for the facts to come out, speculation has been aplenty in this curious case.

“I’m trying to stay calm and not jump to any conclusions,” said Mary Katzer, who owns the land in question. “More information needs to be collected.”

The nest, which was located between Conrad, Wellsburg and Eldora on 280thStreet, would have taken between eight and 10 turbines out of the plans for the proposed 90 megawatt Ivester Wind Farm, according to information that EDF Renewable Energy Development Director PJ Saliterman provided at the June 27 meeting of the Grundy County Board of Supervisors. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends a voluntary 1.6-mile buffer zone from wind turbines for the nests. Read article

Wind turbines killing tens of thousands of bats, including many on the endangered species list

Canadian Wind Energy Association says that they are now, “concerned about reports that are based on limited data that have the effect of boosting estimates [of bird and bat kills].”

This is almost funny. It’s not like we aren’t trying to get all the data, but this is all CanWea will release! When I ASK for ALL the data in letters and FOI requests, the wind companies refuse with a curt “Don’t give her anything.”  The MNRF and the FOI office thought Canadians should see this data. But the wind companies are adamant we never have access to the full reports.

So what does CanWea plan to do? They are going to make up another “system” to um… make it a all a little clearer, like mud. Dear CanWea, why not let Canadians see ALL the data? Don’t make up another fancy system to hide it, just show us the bodies. Or are there too many? Either way, be prepared for a new scheme by this industry to hide them this fall.


bat-killed-by-wind-turbine-bladesLondon Free Press, John Miner
Wind turbines are killing bats, including ones on the endangered species list, at nearly double the rate set as acceptable by the Ontario government, the latest monitoring report indicates. Bats are being killed in Ontario at the rate of 18.5 per turbine, resulting in an estimated 42,656 bat fatalities in Ontario between May 1 and October 31, 2015, according to the report released by Bird Studies Canada, a bird conservation organization.

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources has set 10 bat deaths per turbine as the threshold at which the mortalities are considered significant and warrant action. The bats being killed by turbines in Ontario include the little brown bat, tri-coloured bat, eastern small footed bat, and northern long-eared bat, all on the endangered species list.

The Birds Studies Canada report draws its information from a database that is a joint initiative of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Bird Studies Canada.

Brock Fenton, an expert in the behaviour and ecology of bats and professor in Western University’s department of biology, said the bat deaths are a concern. Bat populations across North America have been plunging with the emergence of a fungal disease called white nose syndrome. Read article

Ontario wind turbine developers killing endangered birds and bats, with impunity

dead-bird-1024x560Bird Studies Canada quietly released a summary of bird and bat kills a few days ago. It doesn’t include last year’s toll on the avian population, but it gives you a good idea of where it’s headed – for a cliff. As you have probably noticed, this item hasn’t made the mainstream news in any way, shape, or form.

Even though the “Top 15 Hit List” consists of threatened swallows, tiny kinglets, scarce hawks and purple martins… not the common and introduced birds wind companies put on their open-house posters (i.e. house sparrows).
top15ONbirdkillBSC

Even though Ontario avian mortality rates have skyrocketed for both bats and birds in recent years. 40,833 bat deaths. 14,144 bird deaths. 462 raptor deaths.

birdbatmortalitychart

 

Even though bat kill averages grossly exceed the MNRF allowable limit. On average they are killing almost double the bats in Ontario than supposedly permitted (although, who’s watching?).

  • Average # of bats killed by just one Ontario wind turbine: 18.52.batmortality
  • Amount supposedly allowed by MNRF per wind turbine: 10.  Bat mortality threshold

Think about that.

Even though the Barn Swallow (a threatened species) is one of the top 15 birds found killed by wind turbines.barn swallow

Even though the Red-tailed Hawk is the sixth most likely bird to be killed in Ontario by a wind turbine.

red-tailed-hawk1

Even though three of the bat species killed by wind turbines are listed as endangered. Does it count as a violation to kill an endangered species if you are a … wind developer? Apparently not. Continue reading

NextEra’s wind turbines kill at least 16 raptors per year in SW Ontario

trade secretsHas anyone mentioned recently how many birds or bats are found dead around the bases of operating wind turbines in Ontario? Like say… the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, or how about Bird Studies Canada? Or maybe even one of the many wind companies in this province that have to collect the bodies? Surely with these hundreds of turbines in operation there would be a news article, or a report released with all the data…?

Of course not, because to talk about the bloody details of bird and bat deaths from wind turbines would just lead to a sorry black eye on such a glowingly green and pristine industry.

Bats killed HaldimandA week ago I was supposed to find out whether NextEra filed an appeal to my Freedom of Information request for three of their wind project’s Bird and Bat Mortality Reports. Nobody called, and nothing arrived in the mail, so I called in this morning. Turns out that even though NextEra had 30 days to file an appeal, they asked for a little more time. And in order to get what they wanted they pointed out a ‘clerical error’ that the FOI office made and this bought them that 30 additional days to file an appeal.

The important message out of this is that NextEra is appealing the FOI office’s decision to release these reports. They don’t want the public to see just how many Purple Martins they killed in Haldimand Cty, or what kind of raptors (Bald Eagles?) they killed in each of their projects. They must think the public can’t responsibly handle that kind of information. Or perhaps they are claiming it’s a ‘trade secret’ like Iberdrola did in Ohio. We won’t know what their official excuse is for another month. Continue reading

Iberdrola Renewables sues to block bird death data release

trade secretsSandusky Register, Tom Jackson
OAK HARBOR — An Ohio wind farm has filed a lawsuit against two state agencies, hoping to conceal the number of bird deaths that are being caused by its operation.

The legal dispute was generated by an Ottawa County birding organization, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Oak Harbor, which contends that bird death data held by both federal and state agencies is public information. Blue Creek Wind Farm LLC, which operates a wind farm in Van Wert and Paulding counties in Ohio and Allen County, Indiana, says releasing its bird and bat kill reports would provide “trade secrets” to its competitors.

Blue Creek filed the lawsuit in May in Franklin County Common Pleas Court against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Power Siting Board. The lawsuit seeks a court order to block the two state agencies from releasing the company’s reports on bird and bat kills.

Blue Creek met with Black Swamp officials last year and released some of its data in an unsuccessful attempt to placate the birding group.

The release of public information sought by Black Swamp would allow everyone to know the trade-off between developing renewable energy and killing birds and bats, said Kim Kaufman, executive director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

“In a way, the public information acts keep everybody honest,” she said. Read article

Wind developers don’t have to make their Bird & Bat kills public – Let’s change that.

turbines-birdsIt’s springtime – birds singing…

Or at least we hope so. Is anybody checking? I mean is the wind company busy collecting carcasses, or listening to bird song? Is the government monitoring the cumulative impacts from the massive wind developments that have been deployed all over Ontario in the last few years?

In short, no. But here’s a test you can all try (and I hope you do): try looking for a Bird/Bat
Mortality Report of any wind project of your choosing in Ontario. It’s like an easter egg hunt, or an eagle egg hunt. Not a very fruitful one though – I’ve only found two – both from before 2012. One is the infamous Wolfe Island bird carnage (all reports are fully listed on the company’s site), and the other is for the Harrow project, but it’s posted here on OWR… so that doesn’t really count as a brownie point for the wind company.

That’s all I can find but if anyone else can point out some more – please share. You’d think the wind developers would have these reports on their websites, especially after all those reassurances at the meetings that the kills would be ‘monitored’ and ‘mitigated’ and of course the people would be kept in the loop.

Copy of IMG_0380In my old backyard of Middlesex County there was an active eagle nest smack in the NextEra Bornish Wind Project – 400m from the massive substation, and surrounded by hundreds of wind turbines now. It’s hard not to think about those eagles and wonder how they are doing, how their offspring fared. Same with the eagles in Haldimand that were evicted from their nest – what happened to them? And the swallows too, flocks of them at this time of year skimming the pond.

In reading the Adelaide Community Liaison Report NextEra said they would  submit these mortality reports at the beginning of March this year. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Yeah, well – too good to be true. March comes and I’m checking all over their website – no documents.

I start looking for other Bird and Bat Mortality Reports for other recent projects and find myself coming up empty handed. What the hell?? By now there should be tonnes of them considering all the projects in operation!

So I contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, where the reports were submitted to. They tell me to go ask NexTerror first. (Kidding, they said NextEra, but they were probably thinking it!).

I breathe in, and write them. (By now I’m losing my cool with this company for multiple reasons, this is as nice as I could be.)

NextEra,

I’m looking for the Bird and Bat Monitoring Report for the Adelaide and Bornish Wind Projects.

From the Community Liaison Committee meeting notes, they should be available by March 1, 2016. “Annual report provided to MNRF by March 1 following each year of monitoring“.

This was my home for 33 years and I still give a damn about the eagle nest, and the multitude of barn swallows and bat colonies. It appears if nobody asks for this report, then nobody knows.

Please direct me to where the public can access these reports, or alternatively send me them both on to me.

Thank you,

Esther Wrightman

The reply comes a couple days later, from someone named “Steve”.

Nextera Bird Bat kill report Steve

 

A quick letter back to Steve (that didn’t get any answers):

Dear Steve (last name?),

A ‘summary’, in ’90 days’, ‘maybe’?

Could you not just send me the same full bird/bat death report you sent the MNRF right now, since you already have it?

Or does it have to be manipulated first, for public consumption.

Esther

 

can5The MNR reassures me that they have these documents but haven’t reviewed them and then I’m told the only other way to retrieve them is to file a Freedom of Information request to see them. I throw my $5 into an envelope and send  it in to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and wait. Continue reading

Victory for Eagles! USFWS Gives Up Fight for Wind Turbine 30-Year ‘Take’ Permits

Now if Ontario would only follow suit…

Audubon, Liz Bergstrom
Eagles just scored a big victory in the courts. This week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dropped an appeal it was pursuing in support of 30-year “take” permits that allow wind farms and other industries to disturb and kill Bald and Golden Eagles, as long as they take steps to protect the raptors. The appeal was part of a legal battle over the agency’s 2013 move to extend the length of these take permits’ validity by 25 years.

The 2013 rule extended five-year take permits, administered under 2009’s Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, to a maximum length of 30 years with periodic check-ins. But in 2015 a federal judge sent the rule back to the drawing board, saying that the agency had not assessed the possible environmental impacts of extending the permit length as required by law.

The government initially appealed this court decision, but now has dropped its appeal. While USFWS did not provide a reason why they were dropping the appeal, the extended permit period has been met with substantial criticism. When it was first introduced, the proposal was criticized for allowing companies to self-report deaths and giving too much leeway to harm birds. It was also somewhat vague, stating that USFWS would work with companies to use “advanced conservation practices” if projects continued to kill eagles, but it never specified what these practices were. Read article

Today, remember NextEra, and their Nest Terror

There is this thing that Facebook does: reposts a picture or comment from any number of years ago that was on your timeline, sporadically, and calls it a Memory. I believe you are supposed to cherish these posts and sigh with, “Time flies!” or “Isn’t that cute?!”

FBEagleNestThis morning the picture of the severed eagle nest was there and Facebook said: “Esther, we care about you and the memories you share here. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from 3 years ago.” Ahem. Well now. Some people have sweeter memories than others apparently. I should like all the cute little pictures scattered around the gruesome one of the crane and nest – kittens, flowers, children – awww! But I hate to tell ya FB, that so called ‘memory’ still feels like yesterday, and not in a good way.

The night before the eagle nest was cut, my dad was dutifully browsing the “Friday evening approvals” by the Ontario government (you know, when the reporters have all gone home for the weekend and no news story can be made until Monday, when the lead has lost most of its heat), and he saw this permit issued to NextEra Energy to destroy an active bald eagle nest. Really. He called me up. We didn’t believe it. Read and reread it. No… they wouldn’t do that. I mean, even when the government would unthinkably hand you a permit to commit an act like this, you wouldn’t go and cut a rare (only forty-eight nests in SW Ontario), massive nest, that was currently home to two eagles, down… would you?

Oh but then we had to think, “What Would NextEra Do?” Well yes, they would cold bloodedly do this, they had an access road that had be plowed through to three of their proposed wind turbines (yet to be built) – and this road demanded that these trees (including one with the nest) be cut in order for the project to proceed. They like words like ‘proceed’, as in “Proceed as Planned”. They wouldn’t want to disrupt a Plan for a silly little (or big) nest. Continue reading

Watch Video: Dozens of Dead Partridges under Wind Turbine

windwah.de

From the videographer:
“In this video, a swarm (dozen) was pressed partridge on a plateau by a tailwind against the foot (base) of a wind turbine (I stood in the middle). The birds, it was impossible to avoid the wind turbine! Result were various neck fractures and other fractures. These wind turbines standing in a bird sanctuary!”

Alberta raptor expert warns wind turbine developments may hurt birds of prey

Mia Sosiak, Global News

eagle nestCALGARY – John Campbell has worked with falcons, eagles and hawks in the wild for decades, all over Western Canada. He has monitored nests near Pincher Creek since the 1970s, and banded thousands of baby raptors, long before the area became the birthplace of wind power in Canada.

Campbell has been finding more and more empty nests in the area. “Currently there are 10 sites that could be occupied; only five are producing young right now,” Campbell said. In Alberta, several species of raptors are considered sensitive, or at risk.

The birds aren’t dying from turbine strikes, Campbell said. They are abandoning high-quality nests because of the pressure of turbine development. Wind turbines mess up the birds’ lives, much in the same way drivers would be stressed if a busy freeway suddenly closed. The raptors move to lower quality sites, where fewer chicks survive. Read article

Wind turbine giant Duke Energy lobbies to gut Migratory Bird Treaty Act

dead eagle at base of turbineAudubon Society
In early June the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill—with a sneak attack on birds attached. The bill included an amendment prohibiting the use of Department of Justice funds to prosecute or hold liable any person or corporation for a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. If it becomes law, anyone could kill birds with impunity, with no risk of jail time or even fines. It would decimate one of the most successful pieces of conservation legislation in history.

Audubon has obtained documents linking Duke Energy, the largest electric utility in the country, to the amendment, which was sponsored by Representative Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.). Duke’s renewable energy division had been the first green power company to be prosecuted under the MBTA, pleading guilty in 2013 to the deaths of more than 150 protected birds, including 14 Golden Eagles, at two wind farms in Wyoming, and forking over $1 million in fines.

In the wake of that guilty plea, Duke, which has contributed $23,000 to Duncan’s political campaigns, apparently began deploying its considerable resources and political muscle to undo the very law it had violated, paying at least $60,000 in 2014 to The Majority Group, LLC, a lobbying firm with offices on D Street in Washington, D.C. On the “lobbying report” it was required to file, Majority Group recorded one purpose of its efforts as “Amending the Migratory Birds Treaty Act and Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act to address accidental avian deaths.” A staff member in Duncan’s office confirmed that the Congressman has discussed amending the MBTA with Duke Energy but did not confirm or deny that Majority Group lobbied Duncan on the energy company’s behalf. Read article

Statement on Divisional Court ruling on Ontario’s Endangered Species Act

eagle nestOntario Nature
TORONTO — Ontario’s Divisional Court has upheld a provincial regulation that exempts major industries from the Endangered Species Act and allows them to kill species at risk and destroy their habitat.

“This is a disappointing decision for Ontario’s endangered and threatened wildlife,” said Ecojustice lawyer Lara Tessaro. “The Endangered Species Act is intended to put species first — not to let their survival be balanced against competing industrial interests. That would tip the scale towards extinction.”

When it was introduced in 2007, the Endangered Species Act was considered the gold standard law for species protection in North America. Unfortunately, recent years have seen Ontario shirk its duties to protect at-risk wildlife.

In 2013, the province introduced a regulation that exempts major industries from strict protection standards under the Endangered Species Act — in many cases giving them a free pass to kill endangered or threatened species and destroy their habitat, as long as this harm is “minimized.” To challenge this regulation, Ontario Nature and Wildlands League, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, brought a lawsuit that culminated in a hearing earlier this year.

“There are too many plants and animals that are teetering on the edge in this province,” said Anna Baggio of Wildlands League. “We will continue to speak up for them until their habitat is protected and until they are no longer at risk of extinction.” Read article

Vulnerable grassland birds abandon mating sites near wind turbines

chickenPhys.org
Shifting to renewable energy sources has been widely touted as one of the best ways to fight climate change, but even renewable energy can have a downside, as in the case of wind turbines’ effects on bird populations. In a new paper in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, a group of researchers demonstrate the impact that one wind energy development in Kansas has had on Greater Prairie-Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) breeding in the area. Virginia Winder of Benedictine College, Andrew Gregory of Bowling Green State University, Lance McNew of Montana State University, and Brett Sandercock of Kansas State University monitored prairie-chicken leks, or mating sites,
before and after turbine construction and found that leks within eight kilometers of turbines were more likely to be abandoned.

Leks are sites at which male prairie-chickens gather each spring to perform mating displays and attract females. The researchers visited 23 leks during the five-year study to observe how many male birds were present and to record the body mass of trapped males. After wind turbine construction, they found an increased rate of lek abandonment at sites within eight kilometers of the turbines as well as a slight decrease in male body mass. Lek
abandonment was also more likely at sites where there were seven or fewer males and at sites located in agricultural fields instead of natural grasslands. Read article

American Bird Conservancy Wind Development Bird Risk Map

wind-map-screenshotAmerican Bird Conservancy
(Washington., D.C., May 3, 2012) A new, interactive web-based map, created by American Bird Conservancy (ABC)—the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, is now available, and has the potential to dramatically reduce bird impacts from wind turbines. Open the map. Using Google Earth as a platform, the map highlights more than 2,000 locations in the United States where birds are likely to be particularly vulnerable to impacts from wind energy development. Key sites are colored either orange or red to indicate their relative importance to birds.

Birds can be impacted by wind power both through direct collisions and by displacement from nesting, foraging, or transit areas. The map addresses both of these issues by identifying both concentrated migratory flight paths and key habitat locations. The map also provides extensive background data for each location, including details of ownership, habitats, land use, bird species, and conservation issues.

“This map offers a way to prevent millions of bird deaths from wind power, while at the same time providing ample opportunity for the prudent development of this potentially bird-smart energy source. Careful siting of wind energy remains the single most important factor in reducing bird deaths from wind power, and this map provides a means to do just that,” said Mike Parr, Vice President of ABC. “ABC strongly supports bird-smart wind energy development” he added. Read article