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).
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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.

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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.

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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.

batspeciesmortalityontarioendangeredbats2More than 4777 endangered Little Brown bats killed by wind turbines in Ontario. Who else gets away with killing that many endangered species in this province without even a slap on the wrist?

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Even though the BSC chart shows that the recorded numbers are plenty lower than what the wind turbines kill is in reality. 
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Actually the numbers in this BSC report only account for less than HALF of the carcasses that would be found if the search area was extended to a much more reasonable 85m radius instead of the currently inadequate 50m.

The mortality estimates presented here potentially underestimate true mortality as they are based solely on carcasses that fell within 50 m of the turbine base. It is expected that a certain proportion of birds and bats will fall outside of this radius, and there are several different approaches to quantifying this correction factor as can be inferred based on extrapolation of Figures 1 and 2. Zimmerling et al. (2013) reported that turbine heights were very similar (~80 m) for most turbines installed in Canada as of 2011 and estimated the proportion of carcasses expected to fall outside of 50 m to be up to 51.8% of birds, based on 4 studies that searched a radius up to 85 m.

So for starters, we apparently need to increase these numbers by 51.8% that Bird Studies Canada came up with for Ontario in order to get a semi-realistic amount. Picture these numbers in your head:

61,984 bat carcasses.

21,470 bird carcasses.

701 raptor carcasses.

And before any supposed environmentalists tells me that “cats are worse,” I ask them to show me a couple pics of Tabby bringing down an eagle. And explain to me why it’s okay for a large (heartless) wind turbine corporation to kill thousands of endangered bats, but not some (heartless) person.

Because it’s not okay, any way you slice it.

~Esther Wrightman

PS: You may be wondering how the wind industry gets away with killing thousands of birds and bats that are endangered. After all there are penalties that the Endangered Species Act imposes, up to a million dollars, times however many they killed:

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But that doesn’t happen. In fact there is NO penalty for a wind developer. Because they have a special Wind Turbine Exemption in the Act! They basically have to write a few more reports on how they tried to stop killing the endangered species and they are free to go. You can’t make this shit up. No wonder nobody wants to talk about this, and NextEra doesn’t want their kill data released. What a tight little club they all belong to.

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16 thoughts on “Ontario wind turbine developers killing endangered birds and bats, with impunity

  1. This was very interesting – why isn’t this released to the media in a shortened press release form. Which is the only thing the media published. Too long and it goes over the head of the media – but short, snappy good title it might get press. From my experience in other issues the media isn’t interested in a lot of facts and figures.

  2. Ya the snappy title might be good like

    Murder not allowed ( serial killers excluded )

    Wind industry is the serial killers that just keep on going, perhaps one day an light may come on when billions of birds and bats are killed and people may ask why was this allowed to go on for so long. But how many years will that take?

    Does anyone notice there’s nothing good about turbines? I mean what product do you know that carries such an ongoing long list of bad issues and labelled so great for us.

  3. Why isn’t Esther Wrightman being hailed as a Canadian heroine? Why isn’t Parliament honoring her with a public service award? Why is not the Province of Ontario doing the same thing? Why is she not the subject of a feature article in the Globe & Mail?

    Why isn’t this article being picked up by Canada’s major media?

    It’s worth thinking long and carefully about my questions.

    Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

    • The issues you have mentioned have been looked into and information about these issues has been posted here.

      At least some of the Quebec issues that affect Canada have come to light and posted.

      However, some don’t want to look at events outside of Ontario for information that affects these same issues. Cross border factors are also present.

      The forces behind the present government are vital issues.

      Political decisions are being made in Ontario without considering the factual information about these issues.

      The MSM is compliant with what is taking place with some exceptions. The same is true in the U.S.

      Some think it’s only the present government that’s at fault.

  4. Two factors that skew their statistics are the radius that they use to do the count and the timing of the count.
    I’ve read that birds can be and are thrown much farther than their arbitrarily chosen radius for the count and that the various animals that feed off of these dead birds and bats haul away the carcasses before they can be counted.

    Am I correct about this?

    • Right. They only collect carcasses in a 50m radius. BSC says that the numbers would be 51.8% higher if they went out to 85m radius of the turbine! On top of this they only collect some months of the year. In the Adelaide NextEra project they didn’t collect any bird carcasses for HALF A YEAR! Um, that might really skew the numbers. Oh and they only collected carcasses under 18 of the 38 turbines weekly, the rest on a monthly basis for 6 months. So basically they picked which turbines they wanted to collect under (like not the one near the bat roost, or not the ones near the eagle nest… you get the picture). These number in the BSC report are bad enough, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.

      • In Huron County, there was a site where hundreds of brown bats returned to each year. The site had to be renovated so they diligently took the care to build appropriate housing on the same site for them and they had it ready on time, but no brown bats returned.
        Could this be why?

    • There is a part of this study that specifically tracks the percentage of carcasses that are removed by scavengers at each site.

  5. Media won’t report it because it puts their GREEN environment not so green as they want to preach. However if it was an oil spill or tar sands it’d be in the news for months.

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