Mortality from collisions with increasing numbers of wind turbines is a potential hazard to raptor populations, but the actual effects on a population scale have rarely been studied based on field data. We estimated annual collision numbers for Red Kites Milvus milvus in the German federal state of Brandenburg (29,483 km²). A hierarchical model considering carcass persistence rate, searcher efficiency and the probability that a killed animal falls into a searched area was applied to results of carcass searches at 617 turbines. Collision risk varied significantly with season. The model estimated 308 (95% CI 159–488) Red Kite fatalities at 3044 turbines operating during 2012, representing 3.1% of the estimated post-breeding population of 9972 individuals. Using the potential biological removal (PBR) method, mortality thresholds of 4.0% were obtained for migratory Red Kite populations. This level of mortality may be reached when turbine numbers increase within a few years. Since wind turbine collisions may affect Red Kites throughout the global range, a more detailed assessment of the actual impacts on populations is needed, especially because the PBR does not account for the predominance of adult birds among the collision victims.
Journal for Nature Conservation – available online 13 August 2013
doi: 10.1016/j.jnc.2013.06.001