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Game commission to investigate mortality rates in birds, bats caused by wind turbines  

BEAR CREEK TWP. – It wasn’t just a gift.

Ed Jasulevicz had a point to prove when he donated the framed photograph he shot at Meadow Run Lake to the township in May.

His point?

Bald eagles are here.

If anyone didn’t believe him, he needs only to look at the 12-by-14-inch framed picture of a bald eagle sitting on the iced lake that now hangs in the municipal office.

“Oh, they’re here,” Jasulevicz said later. “You’ll see the eagles flying around by the water. We see lots of hawks by the lake.”

The controversy over the bird started brewing during township meetings months earlier. Some residents disputed eagles are anywhere near the township. Other residents debated wind farms and whether the turbines would harm eagles or other birds.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is wondering the same thing. The commission is set to hire a new employee who would investigate mortality rates in birds and bats caused by wind turbines.

Wind turbines in some areas have caused bat mortality rates to increase, said Tim Conway, the commission’s Northeast Region information and education director.

“The more these (turbines) pop up on the ridge tops the more need there will be for us to monitor the effect they are having,” Conway said. “This is a new thing. This is a new form of energy. A lot of people are excited, but we’ve got to monitor what’s going on.”

Companies are pushing to build wind turbines on ridge tops throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. A 13-turbine wind farm started operating in June in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County. BP Alternative Energy has shown interest in adding a wind farm in Noxen Township.

Bear Creek already has a nine-turbine wind farm, and Energy Unlimited Inc. has been pushing to put another 34-turbine wind farm in the township. Supervisors rejected plans for 25 of those turbines and Commonwealth Court upheld their decision. The state Supreme Court has yet to decide if it will hear the company’s latest appeal.

The game commission monitors eagles and other birds by counting their nests, Conway said. The Audubon Society of Pennsylvania actually counts individual birds.

Along the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers there are numerous eagles’ nest, Conway said. The birds like to hunt along the rivers and can be seen flying across the Wyoming Valley.

“It doesn’t surprise me that you see eagles anywhere in Pennsylvania,” Conway said. “Maybe they don’t necessarily live in that area, but on routine hunts for food they’ll fly all over our region. We’ve got a population here and we want to watch and see if (wind farms) are harming them.”

By Coulter Jones
Staff Writer

The Citizens Voice

9 July 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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