Wind power is a great form of energy; there’s no doubt about that. However, there have been recent threats to the wildlife population that have collided with these green efforts. This upcoming January 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish new guidelines for wind farms. Some of these guidelines will be aimed at wind-farm operators, advising them on how to protect wildlife in conjunction with the wind farm. The reason for these new suggestions is because more and more endangered species have been killed in wind turbine blades. Most recently, an endangered bat was killed on a wind farm in Pennsylvania.
Deaths like these have brought concern to many environmentalists as well as the government. It is against federal law to kill any member of an endangered species, and wind farmers now face potential repercussions when the new guidelines are put in place. Recently, it’s been reported that Pattern Energy Group has abandoned plans to construct a new wind farm in Sacramento because of concerns about the bald eagle population.
These wildlife concerns are as fresh as a newly painted garage door as ecologist David Cottingham explains, “We haven’t really had too many wind turbines heretofore in the country, so we are learning about it as we go.” The number of wind farms has greatly grown in recent years. The precise number of bat deaths by wind turbines is not known, but some scientists have estimated that the numbers are in the thousands.
According to Ed Arnett, director of science and policy at Bat Conservation International, “Most biologists will tell you that over time and cumulatively, [bats] won’t be able to sustain these fatality rates.” Arnett adds that continued research could help minimize wildlife deaths and that wind power doesn’t necessarily have to be severely compromised. Arnett even stipulates that as little as 1 percent of wind power could be lost if farmers focus on shutting down during “danger periods.”
How do you feel about the clash between wildlife and wind energy? Do you think the focus should shift to a less hazardous form of energy? Let us know in the comments!
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