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Conservation effort focuses on bats and wind turbines

Federal wildlife officials are asking for public input on protecting endangered bat and bird species from being harmed by wind turbines.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has begun to work with Wisconsin and seven other Midwest states on a habitat conservation plan. The service says the aim is to promote the development of clean energy, while helping federally endangered species known to be at risk from wind farms. Those include the Indiana bat, the gray bat and the Kirtland’s Warbler.

Fish and Wildlife representative Georgia Parham says one solution may be for wind energy companies to change how they operate turbines. “Measures might be taken to vary wind speeds, or speeds at which the turbines begin to spin based on whether bats are present or whether they are migrating in that part of the year, or whatever. But, it also may include siting considerations for wind energy projects that haven’t yet been built.”

Parham says yet to be determined are the specific lands to be included in the plan and whether an entire state would be affected. She also says the plan may also include protected species like the bald eagle or little brown bat.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is welcoming comments until October 1st on this early stage of the planning process, a process that may take a couple years to complete.

Comments may be mailed to: Regional Director, Attn: Rick Amidon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-1458; faxed to: 612/713-5292 (Attn: Rick Amidon); or E-mailed to: midwestwindhcp@fws.gov.