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Golden eagle death cited by wind turbine opponents

BOULEVARD, Calif. – A bizarre incident has led to the death of a golden eagle in the Boulevard area.

The death was not caused by wind turbines, but some say it could be a game changer for the future of local wind projects.

Sam Mckernan drove upon the scene along state Route 94 Wednesday afternoon.

“It was just overwhelming. I was crying,” said Mckernan.

A golden eagle was wedged in the rearview mirror of a semi-truck.

Mckernan called her friend Frannie Heath, who came out to the scene.

10News was told the driver described it this way.

“As they were both going westbound, he got caught between the semi-truck’s passenger side and mirror. It ripped off his poor wing and apparently broke his leg at the same time,” said Heath.

An animal services officer was called out and euthanized the eagle.

The golden eagle is not endangered, but it is federally protected and a major focus when it comes to approving wind energy projects.

Donna Tisdale, who chairs the Boulevard planning group, says proposals for many projects, including one recent one, contend there is little to no presence of golden eagles in the Boulevard area and the Campo Indian Reservation.

“Residents have testified and submitted declarations that they had witnessed eagles here within the reservation boundaries, but they say we’re not experts … that we don’t know what golden eagles are,” said Tisdale.

Tisdale says sadly, this death is good evidence that the eagles are in the area and putting up more turbines in the area is a definite risk.

It is evidence that could be put to the test soon, as a handful of wind projects go up for approval. Others face court challenges.

On an unrelated about birds and turbines – for the first time, a company earlier this week pleaded guilty to killing golden eagles.

It is a case from Wyoming involving Duke Energy Renewables. That company must pay a million dollar fine as punishment.