March 19, 2013

Eagle death prompts wind farm investigation

By Peter Gardett | Published: March 18, 2013 |

Wind farms have been accused of killing hosts of birds that get caught in their turbines, accusations that have failed to slow the proliferation of wind energy installations across the country, but killing an eagle is a different matter.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the death of a golden eagle at a wind farm in Kern County, California, and is asking for local resident’s help.

The service notes that the federal government has worked with wind companies already to help developers assess the presence of endangered birds and bats. The wind sector has responded to the concerns, but privately wind energy executives say that the statistics are misleading and that vastly more birds are killed by housecats and other sources than by wind farms.

Renewable energy projects can obtain five year permits to cover the unintended “taking” of bald and golden eagles, but none have been issued in California. The public investigation should help raise awareness for firms developing wind farms in regions like the Tehachapi Range where the golden eagle was found dead. “We want power companies…to contact the Service well in advance of construction,” special agent Jill Birchill said in a statement.

For more from the Wildlife Service, click here.

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