Dan Ashe, Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, published an article on Huffington Post this year discussing eagle conservation and the impact of wind power.
Eagles have been taken off the endangered species list, since 2007, but there have still been concerns about the impact of wind power on these migratory birds.
According to Mr. Ashe, ‘Contrary to published reports, proposed changes to our Eagle Conservation and Management Program do not give wind energy companies — or any other industry, organization or individual — license to kill thousands of eagles each year without consequence. The notion that we intend to permit the killing of more than 4,000 bald eagles is wrong. Period. That number appears in our proposal only as a scientific reference point that signals the “tipping point” at which our biologists tell us overall eagle populations would be at risk.’
Anti-wind lobbyists often cite the killing of birds as being one of the main reasons why wind power is so ‘bad’, however, the reality is that wind turbines account for a very small percentage of bird deaths each year.
As Mr. Ashe addresses: ‘The truth is, thousands of eagles die every year for a variety of reasons — most from natural causes. The vast majority of human-caused deaths result from intentional poisoning and shooting — federal crimes that we aggressively investigate and prosecute. Most other eagle deaths are caused by collisions – with cars, buildings, power lines and other structures. Wind energy facilities represent a fraction of these deaths, and the media’s singular focus on wind turbines is a gross distortion of the truth.’
That said, there has still been an emphasis on proper siting for wind development projects so there are less likely to be placed in existing migratory paths for any species of birds in the area. In order to be granted a permit for development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now requires an Eagle Conservation Plan ‘outlining required measures to reduce and avoid harming or killing eagles’.
Developers have become increasingly careful and selective when siting their wind power projects in the hopes of reducing their impact on local wildlife.