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Wildlife authorities investigating report of dead eagle at wind energy site

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) has learned that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is investigating a report of a dead bald eagle found beneath a wind turbine in southeast Minnesota. The bald eagle was reportedly found over the weekend on a farm near the town of LeRoy. If confirmed, the incident appears to be the first reported case of a bald eagle killed at a wind energy site in Minnesota.

“I cannot confirm there was an eagle found,” said Chuck Traxler, spokesman for the USFWS.“We want to do a thorough investigation and get the facts as to what’s going on. We are not absolutely certain of anything right now but we are looking into it.”

The case was reported on Sunday to authorities by Mary Hartman, a member of the Coalition for Sensible Siting, an organization opposed to wind farms.The incident was forwarded to theMinnesota Department of Natural Resources(DNR) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

There are few, if any, known cases of bald eagles, a protected species under federal law, being killed at a wind energy site in Minnesota.Yet the potential danger to bald and golden eagles from wind turbines has become an increasingly contentious and politically divisive issue in the siting of wind farms. Approval for a 48 turbine Goodhue County wind farm owned by billionaire T. Boone Pickens was delayed recently by Minnesota regulators, pending a comprehensive study by the developer on the potential impact to eagles and bats.

An FFM inquiry about the investigation at the offices of a wind producer in the area, Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm, was referred to corporate headquarters of EDP Renewables in Houston, Texas. Email and phone messages to EDP were not returned by the time of this post.

“As far as I know, if this is confirmed this would be the first reported case of a bald eagle killed at a wind energy site in the state of Minnesota,” Hartman said. “But if the AWA Goodhue wind project goes in, I do not believe it will be the last.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says Minnesota has approximately 1,300 active eagles nests, the third largest breeding bald eagle population in the country.While bald eagles were removed from the list of threatened and endangered species in 2007, they remain under the protection of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act. That law prohibits “thetake, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead.”