If wind towers are built, eagles will die. It makes no difference whether the height of the towers are 400 feet or 100 feet. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that spinning blades create what is termed “motion smear” due to the inability of the birds’ retina to process high speed stimulation, causing the whirling blades to appear deceptively transparent to the approaching bird.
The use of lattice towers only compounds the problem, as was the case with their use at the Altamount Pass in California where the birds were attracted to the lattice as places to perch.
According to the Highland eagle survey team, Snowy Mountain is an active area for golden and bald eagles – a fact to which I can attest since I have a farm in that area. Besides spoiling the view shed by building a wind tower in that area, it places the birds and bats at a definiterisk. The fact that a wind tower is for residential use does not exempt them from complying with such federal laws as the Endangered Species Act or the Bald and Golden Eagles Protection Act.
It is the duty of the board of supervisors to protect the natural environment. Such a residential wind tower could be the first step down a slippery slope, leading to a domino effect where no one will have an unsullied view of the mountains. Even with an incidental take (kill) permit, in the absence of a verifiable monitoring system for mitigating the kills, it is likely that the remaining eagles and other protected species would be decimated.
The board of supervisors would be well advised to consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding this issue before granting permission to build.
Orren L. Royal, M.D.M.S. (Biology)
Capt. (MC) USN (Ret.)
10 April 2008
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