A wind energy company began a bat study last week near Utica.
Chicago-based Invenergy, which operates a wind tower farm near Grand Ridge, is conducting the study in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Joe Kath, endangered species manager with the IDNR in Springfield, said Monday radio transmitters were attached with surgical glue to bats at the Pecumsaugan Creek-Blackball Mines Nature Preserve to track their movements. The endangered Indiana bat hibernates there. Eventually, the glue weakens and the transmitters fall from the bats. The batteries for the transmitters have a maximum life of 21 days and limited range, but most of the work tracking the radio signals is done. Now, researchers are analyzing the data.
Kath doesn’t know when the study will be complete, but eventually its results will be public.
Kath acknowledged bats have been found dead near wind towers across North America and Invenergy’s interest in the bat study is based on those findings. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, some of the creatures have been killed by rotating propellers, but others showed no external injury. One study suggested the propellers cause a drop in air pressure that bursts the lungs of bats flying nearby. Kath noted there are no reports of dead bats at wind farms in La Salle County, but that doesn’t mean there have not been any.
Kath believes information generated by the study will help in locating future wind towers and will aid wildlife managers. He noted years ago experts feared wind towers could kill birds, but not bats. Nonetheless, Kath praised Invenergy as the first wind power company in Illinois to approach the IDNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about tracking bats.
After The Times contacted Invenergy, company spokeswoman Alissa Krinsky provided a prepared statement.
“As a progressive developer of wind projects, we’re committed to the co-existence of wind and wildlife. Irrespective of specific development plans, from time to time we conduct or sponsor data collection to evaluate and better understand wildlife activity in general.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding