The American Wind Energy Association’s John Anderson incorrectly suggests (Letters, Oct. 23) that wind turbines kill only “some” protected birds. Shawn Smallwood’s comprehensive four-year study published in 2004 documented that turbines at the Altamont Pass, Calif., wind farm killed an average of 116 golden eagles annually. Extrapolated over the 25-year life of the facility, this means up to 2,900 eagles were killed at Altamont alone. Applied across wind farms throughout the western U.S., this suggests death tolls that some independent conservationists have called “unsustainable.” Indeed, the number of active eagle nests around Altamont Pass has plummeted, and recent studies have reported golden eagle population declines in two other California turbine areas.
The same studies reveal that other protected birds of prey are being killed in even larger numbers, along with thousands upon thousands of smaller birds. Moreover, as Save the Eagles International and Iberica 2000 data demonstrate, Altamont Pass is the rule, not the exception—which portends species extinctions in coming years.
Wind facilities also damage agriculture by killing vast numbers of protected bats that are attracted to turbines. Because bats are slow reproducers and are already declining in numbers due to white-nose syndrome, the turbines represent a very serious threat. The World Council for Nature has warned that the decimation of these insect-eating animals will have far-reaching consequences for agriculture: crop losses, higher food prices, increased use of pesticides and impaired human nutrition.
Tens of thousands of wind turbines are illegally inflicting such severe losses on so many protected species that the problem can no longer be ignored or tolerated.
Save the Eagles International
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