A dead wedge-tailed eagle found at the Waterloo wind farm in South Australia had starved to death over two weeks after being struck by a wind turbine blade, a report has found.
The incident prompted calls for better monitoring of birds of prey around wind turbines and the introduction of new technology to avoid future deaths.
The juvenile male wedge-tailed eagle was found about 180m from the base of the northern-most wind turbine tower at Waterloo with a badly broken wing in April.
A post-mortem examination by the University of Adelaide found the fracture occurred two to three weeks prior to the time of death.
A report into the death by Ian Falkenberg, district manager for the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, said there was no suggestion the eagle remains were “deliberately planted at the site by a person or persons unknown”. It said the most likely conclusion was that the wing fracture “was caused by a wind turbine strike”.
“The possibility that the blunt trauma to the wing was caused by a collision with a vehicle and the eagle then making its way over ground for a distance of over 3.5km including over 100m of elevation to the ridge top is not plausible,” the report said.
It added that deliberate harm caused by human involvement was highly unlikely.
“Evidence of fracture-healing (ossification) at the fracture site suggests this bird was alive for at least two weeks . . .” the post mortem report said.
“Given these findings, starvation would have been the resultant cause of death.
“It would be highly desirable for a detailed behavioural study to be undertaken to determine: precise raptor flight paths; wind profiles and how eagles use updrafts and wind currents in the region and the influence of topography and prey availability on foraging behaviour in future.”