The south shore of Prince Edward County (PEC), where two industrial wind turbine projects, wpd White Pines and Ostrander/Gilead are slated, is a main migration path for the endangered Golden Eagle. This has been made clear in the wpd Species at Risk report, obtained by us through a Freedom of Information request, and is confirmed on the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) website.
The wpd surveys reported an average of four golden eagles per day on each of the three survey days in November—and, according to the surveys, most were flying at blade height. This indicates there could be at least as many as 120 golden eagles migrating through the area in the month of November alone—at blade level. Presumably the birds would also return via the same pathway.
According to the MNR website, only six pairs of golden eagles nest in Ontario, but over 200 have been observed in southern Ontario, presumably migrating to nest in northern Ontario and Quebec. From the information in the Species at Risk report and on the MNR website, it appears that most, if not all, of the eastern North American population of golden eagles will pass through a killing zone of wind turbines, if these are permitted to be constructed on the south shore of PEC.
The fact that this has only now come to our attention, and is being raised by us and not the government departments responsible for the Species at Risk/Endangered Species Acts, is alarming.
• We are not aware of any official reports highlighting the vulnerability and potential concern for raptors, and specifically the golden eagle, within or in official review of the documents/surveys supporting the Ostrander Point or White Pines wind projects.
• There do not appear to have been comprehensive raptor/golden eagle studies supporting the Ostrander Point project. Why were they not required, as the golden eagle and its habitat are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and has been designated as a Specially Protected Bird under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act?
• We recently discovered that the MNR has clearly known about this area being a concentration point for the golden eagles—it is described in their website mnr.gov.on.ca by searching for golden eagle.
• The wpd Species at Risk report was not made available to the public during the formal review period. The first working day after the posted deadline for comment, it was released through the FOI request. Why was the report not released sooner?
• Why were the two projects considered complete and acceptable by MNR and MOE, after the area had been identified as a main migration route?
• Ontario and Canada have obligations under the Migratory Birds Convention Act to protect migratory species. These and other species identified in this report—including the migrating peregrine falcons, are endangered.
• There will potentially be hundreds of Industrial wind turbines in the 50 kilometres of sensitive shoreline from PEC, through Bath/Amherst Island to WolfeIsland. Why is the cumulative impact of these on the golden eagle and other endangered species not even considered?
• Environment Canada’s guidance document (Wind Turbines and Birds V. 8.2, p.21, 2007) lists 11 criteria of a site where turbines should not be sited – all are met by the south shore of PEC, yet turbines are considered approvable in the area.
• Passing a large percentage of the golden eagles that reside in eastern North America through a killing zone such as this will become if wind turbines are permitted, will likely imperil this species.
These findings call into question the credibility of the science-based review that the MNR and the MOE perform, and whether approvals are political rather than science driven.