Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Unfortunate!

 As an environmentalist I am happy that small steps have been made to transition our energy needs to cleaner sustainable sources. New sources like wind, solar and wave technologies lessen our dependency on sources like coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear. These older technologies pollute the environment and can be very dangerous.
Golden Eagle
Unfortunately good intentions can sometimes have bad side effects. That has been the case with wind energy. A study by the Us Fish and Wildlife Service reports that at least 85 golden and bald eagles were killed at wind farms between 1997 and 2012. That may not sound like a huge number over 5 years, however the study relied mainly on volunteered reports of fatalities by the wind energy companies. So it is possible the number may be much higher. The study also did not include all US wind farms. The Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in California was not included in the study. It is located in an area with a high population of golden eagles and may be responsible for as many deaths as reported in the study every year.
Bald Eagle 
Most of the concern is about eagles but other types of raptors also collide with windmills. Raptors typically watch the ground when they fly because they are looking for food. By the time they notice the structure it is too late as the blades which can be spinning in excess of 150 mph create wind currents that can suck the birds in. Most of the deaths happen at older facilities. While the UFAWS report has sparked awareness on this issue from concerned citizens a 1 million dollar fine that was recently levied against a wind energy company in Montana has gotten the attention of the wind industry. Some Wind energy companies now hire people to do impact studies before building new farms. Unfortunately the best location for wind farms are often great habitat for eagles. Other technologies, such as radar that can turn of turbines when it detects an eagle in the area, are also helping us to create a cleaner environment while minimizing our impact on eagles and other birds of prey.

10 comments:

Kate said...

I have been aware of this unfortunate set of circumstances here in Minnesota and fervently hope that the situation can be altered to the satisfaction of all concerned, esp the birds! I've seen many of these turbines as we drive cross country to NM each winter. I also have heard that sometimes the blades freeze in the unseasonable cold weather in the Midwest.

HansHB said...

Great photos, well done!

Leslie: said...

That is so sad...unfortunately, environmentalists sometimes fail to realize the negative impact of something that appears so positive to all lives.

Leslie
abcw team

Roger Owen Green said...

FWIW, I TOTALLY agree with you on this.
ROG, ABCW

Karen said...

We have a lot turbines going up in our rural areas. I like that radar idea!

Dave said...

Nature and humans..... difficult to get the balance right.

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Oh no, I didn't know about this bad side to the wind farms. :-(

bettyl-NZ said...

It's good to know that they can 'fix' the problems that are created. But all in all, it's a great big step in the right direction.

Lady In Read said...

i remember reading about the windmills here in the East Bay - SF Bay area in CA - and their impact on the eagle population - that is so unfortunate indeed

PalmerLakeGuy said...

This story caught my eye when it was published in the Mpls/St. Paul StarTribune a few days before Thanksgiving. The company was fined for killing 14 Eagles and 149 other birds including Hawks, Blackbirds, Wrens and Sparrows. And this occurred at just two wind farms owned by the one company. With all the other wind farms across the country just imagine how many birds aren't making successful migration each year due to this threat. I was all for wind energy until I learned of this issue. I like the radar idea, I hadn't heard of that before. Here is the StarTribune article: http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/233067591.html