Bald Eagle Killed by Wind Turbine in Norfolk County, Ontario

The Ministry of Natural Resources may say the jury is still out but one healthy eagle out of a total of nine nesting pairs in Norfolk County may be unsustainable if it occurs every year and with more wind farms proposed along the north shore of Lake Erie the number of deaths can only increase.  Why are we experimenting with an endangered species?  ~ Dan Wrightman

Brantford Expositor

The jury is still out on whether wind turbines are a threat to the bald eagle, which continues to make a steady comeback in Ontario, says a ministry of natural resources biologist.

“It’s still a relatively new thing,” Ron Gould of the MNR’s Aylmer office said of the turbines that dot the north shore of Lake Erie, the bird’s main habitat in southern Ontario. “It may take several years to conclude conclusively.”

Thirty years ago, the Ontario bald eagle population was down to two pairs — and they weren’t reproducing — due to widespread pollution that had poisoned the food chain. Especially damaging was the pesticide DDT.

Since then, conservation efforts have helped the bird’s numbers rebound. Today, there are 48 nests in southern Ontario.

In the past few years, green energy efforts have seen dozens of turbines with large rotating propellers go up near the Elgin- Norfolk border where the eagles live and hunt for fish.

So far, monitoring suggests the birds are smart enough to avoid the propeller blades, said Gould.

Only one known eagle fatality has been recorded, he said, a bird found about 40 metres from a windmill in Norfolk County almost exactly one year ago.

The eagle’s body was sent to Bird Studies Canada and then to the MNR. An examination of the carcass showed it had injuries consistent with a sudden impact while toxicology tests indicated it was otherwise healthy, said Gould.

He suggested this particular bird “was maybe a little too careless.”

“My prediction is, if this (turbines) was going to be a significant impact, we’d see more activity at this point,” Gould said.  [How many dead bald eagles constitute a problem?]

Jody Allair, a biologist with Bird Studies Canada in Port Rowan who runs an eagle-monitoring program, said it’s hard to tell what kind of effect the turbines are having on the bird’s livelihood.

“Some pairs are successful, some are not,” said Allair. “It’s hard to know why some die and some disappear.”

As part of their studies, Allair and his colleagues climb 30 metres or more to get to eagle nests. There, they place chicks in bags and gently lower them to the ground.

The birds are banded and blood samples are taken from them. Feathers can also be studied to measure the build-up of dangerous metals such as mercury that continue to threaten the birds’ habitat.

Some of the eagles are fitted with transmitters, which look like tiny backpacks on the backs of the birds. This allows their movements to be followed by satellite. The public can also follow the birds on the BSC website.

Norfolk County now has nine nesting pairs, Allair said, and the bird “is increasing in numbers right across Lake Erie.”

Last year was “the best year ever,” for eagle reproduction, he added. Thirty-eight of the 48 nests successfully produced chicks, averaging 1.7 offspring per nest, he said.

The rebound of the bald eagle is important, Allair said, because it indicates “a recovery in the quality of our water.”

Eagles, he noted, are at the top of the food chain. “If something is happening to them, something is going on with rest of the food chain.”

Daniel Pearce

20 thoughts on “Bald Eagle Killed by Wind Turbine in Norfolk County, Ontario

  1. This is a disaster in the making!….”after all what’s the big deal with a few Eagle Deaths when we will get so much more from IWT’s?”…………

    Pretty well makes the MNR rather “redundant” doesn’t it?………at one time the MNR used to protect our wildlife from being killed from the senseless activities of people but now McGuinty basically uses the MNR as a “front” to make Ontario “look like it cares” for his massive Wind Fraud that will kill more than just a couple of once “revered” Eagles!

  2. Do people consider children injured by playing around an operating auger to be “careless”? What is careless is humans creating industrial structures that have the design to harm wildlife in large spatial tracts.
    I am sick of listening to people assigned to protect our natural surroundings making excuses for not understanding bird deaths. This is not natural selection, it is unnatural execution.

  3. Paint an Eagle on your Kite! $$$ signs too. A picture of McGuinty would be a good one! If only we could get the truckers to refuse to deliver the turbines. They need to see the video that debunks Al Gore. How do we get the teachers unions to look at the video and cause a real debate. If only we could get through to the opposition Parties. We have to focus now on re educating a “Greenwashed” generation.
    We are a think tank ourselves, if we pool our resources and hire speakers in a public forum maybe, just maybe, we could turn the tide.

  4. What the wind companies always ‘forget’ to do is MULTIPLY the deaths that they have already recorded by the huge inrease in the number of wind turbines that will be put up. A huge flippin’ obstacle coarse for all types of birds. Sounds like the MNR doesn’t want to face the facts: they weren’t the ones who collected this dead bird, and I don’t think they want to actually look for them.

  5. The attitude by the MNR is appalling.

    The tips of these blades are travelling at speeds of 200 mph. Eagles soar on wind currents, as they always have. But the MNR blames the eagle!

    This is such a gross perversion of “environmentalism”.

  6. Ron Gould is not much of a biologist, if he is a biologist at all (a University education is not required to be a biologist with the MNR), as what he is quoted as saying is not what a biologist would say or do. The mortality of one bald eagle from a nesting pair is most likely the loss of a nesting site and increases the mortally chances (which is already high) for eaglets if killed during the nesting season. Bald eagles are long lived and mate for life. Loss of a mate most likely means the loss of the nesting site permanently if the risk is not removed. Mark Duchamp’s studies overseas have documented loss nesting habitat of the sea eagle not unlike our bald eagles. Bald eagles and their habitat are supposed to be protected. Killing or even harassing a bald eagle is supposed to be a chargeable offence. What sort of investigation was done to ensure the company did anything at all to avoid killing the eagle? If they did nothing and do not have a permit to kill an endangered species it should have resulted in a charge or at least a written investigation. One reported kill translates in that eagles will be killed in the future if industrial wind turbines continue to inhabit bald eagle habitat. From 48 nests down to 47 and monitoring the situation (but only if it gets reported as Twolittlewitches has already brought to our attention). Not much of a recovery plan for bald eagles in southern Ontario. MNR employees are not doing their job and are showing ignorance to their profession.

  7. ron.gould@ontario.ca

    Why has this taken so long to be made public? I made some calls to the MNR late last week (which were never returned). Maybe they realized they had better “handle” the bad publicity?

  8. I can’t believe that the Liberal Government in Ontario can demonstrate such total disregard for the environment by promoting the corporate-greed projects of wind farm developers. I’ll never vote Liberal again.

  9. The company who owns the turbine where this eagle was killed is International Power Canada.

    The CEO of this company, Mike Crawley is also President of the Federal Liberal Party (Ontario region).

  10. Here is what happens:
    A “careless’ bird gets smacked by a blade, falls into the corn/bean field ~ 100 feet away from the turbine. Scavengers will clean up the carcass within 24 hours. Alas, the evidence has disappeared = the MNR stats show that there is no evidence of birds being killed by McG’s turbines.

  11. A stupid fellow up our way got caught shooting a Bald Eagle many many years ago and went immediately to Jail!…….

    Why isn’t Crawley in Jail as we speak?

  12. Talk about hypocrisy:

    The province of Alberta and the Canadian government laid charges against the Syncrude Canada Ltd joint venture on Monday after several ducks died in April after landing on a tailings pond at Syncrude’s oil sands operation in northern Alberta.

    Why isn’t the government(s) laying charges against these wind farm operators? It’s time to stop the hypocrisy and take back control. Charges need to be laid immediately!

  13. I agree with AAW. Charges to the company and involved MNR employees for sitting on the information and doing what appears to be nothing. The Endangered Species Act is binding to the crown. No free ride.

  14. T – You say there were more. Can you expand on that? We need to follow up on this.

  15. Outrage for this act of murder is appalling to the “extreme” and I would suggest that our First Nations People’s would be even more sickened by this as the Eagle is the most “revered” living being in their Heritage beliefs!

    This is worse than killing a human!

  16. WOWZERS!!

    Get that guy’s name and pass it on to MA. That’s the kind of ammo we need to stop this insanity. That one incident alone is worthy of a few columns of headline press and major butt-kicking.

    Details please: When he found them, his name etc etc.

  17. I am so saddened by the suffering of those affected by the Wind Turbines. I am so sorry that the leadership of the Provincial and Federal Governments have forsaken you.
    So much suffering and bird deaths, this generation has lost its path. There seems to be no one to empathize or take direction in leadership. We need to help each other out as a community.
    Thank you all for keeping each other informed, we need to know!

  18. That’s not good! The bald eagles are an endanger species. They need to come up with something to protect this eagles. I suggest that they should put a cover on that giant electric fan. They forgot to put a cover on those blade fans. Put a grill cover or cage around those open wind power killing machine. If they can’t come up with something so simple then don’t put those sore eye looking thing on the fields.

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