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Eagle baiting alleged in ongoing wind farm debate

Carl Denkinger, an agricultural specialist with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, has investigated six complaints of eagle baiting in the past month within the 32,000-acre wind project footprint.

The Faribault-based official says they’ve all been reported by Westwood Professional Services, a company hired by National Wind, which has been conducting weekly efforts in the area where 48 turbines are proposed.

While some dead animals have been found in Denkinger’s investigations, such as baby pigs and a calf carcass, none have resulted in a violation; by state law, farmers have 72 hours to dispose of dead livestock.

“To make the blanket statement that this is being done to bait eagles, I’m not ready to make that statement,” Denkinger said.

However, AWA Goodhue doesn’t appear to have accepted that assessment in its new report, which requires approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission before construction can begin. In its 127-page Avian and Bat Protection Plan submitted Thursday to the PUC, it says that Denkinger’s office has confirmed baiting that has “seriously compromised” avian point count surveys in the area.

“The full extent of the baiting program is unknown but data from at least two of the six observation points has been compromised by baiting activity,” AWA Goodhue’s wrote in the document.

Citizens put video on YouTube.com this weekend of a helicopter they say was flying by a bald eagle and plan to send hard copies to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the FAA.

Read in Saturday’s print edition about the debate and what comes next.