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Effects of wind-energy facilities on bats and other wildlife  

WHEREAS, wildlife conservation and energy efficiency should be major considerations in the development of viable sources of alternative energy (Government Accountability Office 2003; Arnett et al. 2007; National Research Council 2007); and

WHEREAS, wind turbines were once assumed to have no adverse environmental impacts, however, onshore wind-energy facilities have killed thousands of bats and birds (Government Accountability Office 2003; Kunz et al. 2007b; National Research Council 2007); and

WHEREAS, onshore wind-turbine construction and associated infrastructure have pronounced effects on wildlife habitat (Government Accountability Office 2005; Arnett et al. 2007), including increased habitat loss and fragmentation and subsequent loss of species from areas around developments, and alteration of dispersal or migration corridors; and

WHEREAS, many onshore and offshore wind-energy facilities are being planned and constructed without adequately considering the potential or actual effects on wildlife (Barclay et al. 2007; Cryan and Brown, 2007; Kunz et al. 2007b; National Research Council 2007); and

WHEREAS, fatalities of bats and other wildlife at existing onshore wind-energy facilities have raised concern that wind turbines may have population-level impacts on these species (Kunz et al. 2007b; Arnett et al. 2008); and

WHEREAS, researchers independent of the wind industry have been unable to adequately evaluate the magnitude of impacts because of limited access to wind-energy facilities, but preliminary results indicate that species such as migratory tree bats already may be experiencing fatality rates that will lead to population declines (Kunz et al. 2007; Arnett et al. 2008); and

WHEREAS, the cumulative impacts of wind-energy development on wildlife likely will increase as new facilities are constructed (Kunz et al. 2007b; National Research Council 2007); and

WHEREAS, proposed and existing wind-energy projects have the potential to severely impact species that cross state and national borders, particularly continental migrants, such that no single state or regional agency can adequately analyze or assess the cumulative impacts of these projects on wildlife (National Research Council 2007; Arnett et al. 2008); and

WHEREAS, scientific guidance and leadership are required before negative effects on wildlife become severe and irreversible (Kunz et al. 2007; Arnett et al. 2008);

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Society of Mammalogists, meeting at their 88th Annual Meeting, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota, 21–25 June 2008, recommends the following steps be implemented to provide appropriate protection for our valuable wildlife resources:

(a) Commitments to comprehensive environmental assessments (made prior to selection of sites and construction of facilities) that include multi-year pre- and multi-year post-construction studies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003; Government Accountability Office 2005; National Research Council 2007);

(b) Environmental assessments by professional biologists or organizations with no conflict of interest in any aspect of financing construction or operation of wind energy facilities (Kunz et al. 2007a; National Research Council 2007);

(c) Independent external review of evaluations and reports before siting of wind energy facilities to insure the techniques and interpretation of results are appropriate, adequate, scientifically rigorous, and in the public domain (Kunz et al. 2007a; Arnett et al. 2008);

(d) Siting and placement of turbines and their associated infrastructure to avoid fragmenting large contiguous tracts of wildlife habitat (Arnett et al. 2007; National Research Council 2007);

(e) Siting and placement that avoids bat hibernation, breeding, and maternity colonies, or flight paths between colonies and feeding areas (Arnett et al. 2007; Cryan and Brown, 2007; National Research Council 2007);

(f) Siting and placement to avoid local pathways of bat or bird migration or areas where these species are highly concentrated (Arnett et al. 2007; National Research Council 2007);

(g) Siting and placement that avoids documented locations of any species of wildlife protected under State or Federal authority, that could be affected adversely (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003; Arnett et al. 2007);

(h) Increased research on effects of onshore and offshore wind-energy facilities to assess the nature and extent of risks to wildlife (Arnett et al. 2007, 2008; Kunz et al. 2007a, 2007b);

(i) Systematic investigation of effectiveness of operational procedures, such as feathering of blades or voluntary temporary shutdowns that might reduce impacts of wind turbines on wildlife (Barclay et al. 2007; Cryan and Brown, 2007; Horn et al. 2008; Kunz et al. 2007a; National Research Council 2007;

(j) Implementation of scientific peer-review of all aspects of wind-energy development (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003; Government Accountability Office 2005; Kunz et al. 2007b; National Research Council 2007).

Literature Cited

Arnett, E. B., D. B. Inkley, D. H. Johnson, R. P. Larkin, S. Manes, A. M. Manville, J. R. Mason, M. L. Morrison, M. D. Strickland, and R. Thresher. 2007. Impacts of wind energy facilities on wildlife and wildlife habitat. Wildlife Society Technical Review 07-2. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Arnett, E. B., K. Brown, W. P. Erickson, J. Fielder, T. H. Henry, G. D. Johnson, J. Kerns, R. R. Kolford, T. Nicholson, T. O’Connell, M. Piorkowski, and R. Tankersly. 2008. Patterns of fatality of bats at wind energy facilities in North America. Journal of Wildlife Management 72:61–78. http://www.nationalwind.org/pdf/Nocturnal_MM_Final-JWM.pdf.

Barclay, R. M R., E. F. Bearwald, and J. C. Gruver. 2007. Variation in bat and bird fatalities at wind energy facilities: assessing the effects of rotor size and tower height. Canadian Journal of Zoology 85:381–387.

Cryan, P. M. and A. C. Brown. 2007. Migration of bats past a remote island offers clues to the problem of bat fatalities at wind turbines. Biological Conservation 139:1–11.

Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Requesters. 2005. Wind Power, Impacts on Wildlife and Government Responsibilities for Regulating Development and Protecting Wildlife. GAO-05-906. Washington D. C., 64 pp. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-906.

Horn, J. W., E. B. Arnett, and T. H. Kunz. 2008. Behavioral responses of bats to operating wind turbines. Journal of Wildlife Management 72:123–132. https://docs.wind-watch.org/horn_et_al_2008.pdf.

Kunz, T. H., E. B. Arnett, B. M. Cooper, W. P. Erickson, R. P. Larkin, T. Mabee, M. L. Morrison, M. D. Strickland, and J. M. Szewczak. 2007a. Assessing impacts of wind-energy development on nocturnally active birds and bats: a guidance document. Journal of Wildlife Management 71:2449–4486. http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/wild-71-08-45.pdf.

Kunz, T. H., E. B. Arnett, W. P. Erickson, A. R. Hoar, G. D. Johnson, R. P. Larkin, M. D. Strickland, R. W. Thresher, and M. D. Tuttle. 2007b. Ecological impacts of wind energy development on bats: questions, research needs, and hypotheses. Frontiers of Ecology and Environment 5:315–324. https://docs.wind-watch.org/kunzbatswind.pdf.

National Research Council. 2007. Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. http://www.eswr.com/latest/307/nrcwind.htm.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2003. Memorandum to Regional Directors, Regions 1–7 on Service Interim Guidance on Avoiding and Minimizing Wildlife Impacts from Wind Turbines,. 13 May 2003, 57 pp. http://www.fws.gov/habitatconservation/wind.pdf.

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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