Stop 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.
The 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.
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.”
Canada: 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.
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 Canada. Installed 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”