BLAIR COUNTY – It’s small and extremely rare and its death has brought parts of the energy industry in Central PA to a halt.
It’s the Indiana Bat, a federally and state endangered species.
Last September one was found dead on a wind farm along the Cambria- Blair County boarder.
Turbines there have since been shut off during night time hours.
“Every species is important. Every animal has a role to play in the ecosystem,” said Biologist Justin Vreeland with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Well the bat can be considered nature’s pesticide.
Bats gobble up the bugs that could threaten a farmer’s harvest, eating as many as 500 per hour and saving pa farmers as much as $278 million dollars per year.
But as they fly through the sky, some bats are being taken down by wind turbines.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission said every year a single wind turbine kills roughly 25 bats .
Late last September, an extremely rare and endangered Indiana Bat was discovered beneath a turbine on the North Allegheny Windpower Wind Farm.
“From what we understand from the us fish and wildlife service, this is the first time that an Indiana Bat carcass has been found at a wind farm in the eastern United States,” said Greg Efthimiou of Duke Energy Corporate Communications, the company that owns the wind farm.
“So we decided that the most prudent thing to do upon discovery of the bat was to shut down operations at night,” Efthimiou added. “30 minutes before dusk and 30 minutes after dawn
The Pennsylvania Game Commission can’t speak on this specific case, but said most of time it’s not the turbines blades that kill the bat – it’s the atmospheric pressure change they create that does.
“Bats are really curious creatures,” Vreeland said. “Bats will actually investigate the turbine even if they’re not moving. They’re not actually sucking the bats in, but as they come closer they’re becoming enveloped in that low pressure area and suffer that internal trauma.”
Wind turbines aren’t the real killer of bats, though, Vreeland added.
That title belongs to a deadly fungus called White Nose Syndrome.
Discovered in the area in 2007, the fungus can wipe out as many as 90%of some bat populations.
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