Wind turbines without curtailment produce large numbers of bat fatalities throughout their lifetime: A call against ignorance and neglect
Abstract – Bats are protected by national and international legislation in European countries, yet many species, particularly migratory aerial insectivores, collide with wind turbines which counteracts conservation efforts. Within the European Union it is legally required to curtail the operation of wind turbines at periods of high bat activity, yet this is not practiced at old wind turbines. Based on data from the national carcass repository in Germany and from our own carcass searches at a wind park with three turbines west of Berlin, we evaluated the magnitude of bat casualties at old, potentially poor-sited wind turbines operating without curtailment. We report 88 documented bat carcasses collected by various searchers over the 20-year operation period of this wind park from 2001 to 2021. Common noctule bats (Nyctalus noctula) and common pipistrelles (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) were most often found dead at these turbines. Our search campaign in August and September 2021 yielded a total of 18 carcasses. We estimated that at least 209 bats were likely killed during our field survey, yielding more than 70 casualties/wind turbine or 39 casualties/MW in two months. Since our campaign covered only part of the migration season, we consider this value as an underestimate. The 20-year period of the wind park emphasises the substantial impact old turbines may have on bat individuals and populations when operating without curtailments. We call for reconsidering the operation procedures of old wind turbines to stop the continuous loss of bats in Germany and other countries where turbine curtailments are even less practiced than in Germany.
Christian C. Voigt, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany
Klara Kaiser, Samantha Look, Freie Universitäat Berlin, Germany
Kristin Scharnweber, Carolin Scholz, Universität Potsdam, Germany
Global Ecology and Conservation, Volume 37, September 2022, e02149
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