Deb Markowitz’s plea to help save Vermont’s bats (“In my opinion,” July 13) is ironic – and also infuriating. Reason: Markowitz, and the state’s Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) which she now heads, have been among our bats’ worst enemies in recent years.
She writes, correctly, that today’s major threat is white-nose disease, an epidemic infection that has left hundreds of thousands of Vermont bats dead in recent years, the fur on their noses, inexplicably, whitened. This is an environmental disaster and no one knows why it is happening or how to stop it.
But Vermont’s bats face a second – and growing – deadly risk for which Markowitz and ANR bear some responsibility: Wind turbines’ spinning blades create a vacuum that sucks in bats. The sudden drop in air pressure behind the blades causes the bats’ lungs to explode.
This deadly effect has long been known. As wind farms come on line in the Kingdom and the rest of Vermont, many bats will die as the result. Their small, bloody bodies will be found beneath the turbines.
Markowitz knows this. ANR knows this. Yet, Markowitz has been a strong proponent of wind farms. The ANR has used its resources to support the wind farmers’ turbine construction. It has raised few, if any, challenges to them.
Markowitz touts “the little things” we can do to “help our bats.” Right now, she and her Agency are going the wrong way. They are part of the problem.
(One thing they might do: Mandate whistles on the blades that would scare off bats.)
David R. Zimmerman