A study by Boston University’s biology department estimates that bats save the agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year by preventing insect damage. Based on post-construction bat mortality studies, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has reported that each wind turbine is killing between 40 to 50 bats a year. Wisconsin’s 314 industrial turbines have increased bat mortality by over 14,000 lives annually. Assuming the bat population in Mason County is comparable to Wisconsin’s, Lake Winds Energy Park’s 56 turbines would kill about 2,300 bats each year.
Unlike birds, bats are not typically killed by blade strikes but by flying into the turbine’s air turbulence. Researchers have found that the rapid drop in air pressure causes the capillaries in the bats’ lungs to rupture, effectively drowning them in their own blood; an event known as “barotrauma”. The long-term ecological repercussions on regions hosting turbines is a growing concern since more intensive use of pesticides may need to be employed (and remember, aerial crop dusting is usually not an option anymore in areas with wind turbines) and organic farms will become increasingly vulnerable as they lose one of their most valuable allies.
Though some of us may think of bats as “pests,” they are really one of our dearest friends in creation for taking care of real pests!
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