I read with great interest two recent letters debating the impact of wind energy on eagles and other birds [“Eagles face threat from wind power industry,” Feb. 8] and [“Wind power’s threat to eagles was overstated,” Feb. 15].
Letter-writer Frank Jandrowitz was right to point out the danger to eagles from wind power development and associated power lines and towers. In actuality, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no idea how many eagles are being killed by these structures.
A Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Bird Conservancy produced records of only 25 eagle deaths caused by turbines from 2013 to 2016. This can’t be accurate. More than 2,000 golden eagles have been killed at the infamous Altamont Wind Resource Area in California, 67 on average per year.
Wyoming wind facilities run by PacifiCorp were fined in 2014 for killing 38 golden eagles. The Eastern golden eagle population, which consists of only a few hundred, is likely most at risk, yet FWS has said that they may still issue “take” permits with mitigation. Writer John LeFebre is correct that FWS will not necessarily allow the annual killing of 4,200 bald eagles; this is the theoretical number that could be taken without reducing the national population.
Fewer bald than golden eagles have been killed by wind turbines so far because the industry has not begun building turbines in their habitats. Once it does, this number will likely go up.
Hundreds of thousands of birds are being killed by wind turbines annually. An additional tens of millions are lost to collisions and electrocutions at associated power lines and towers.
We could be doing so much better. Utilize wind energy, sure, but let’s regulate it and keep it out of sensitive areas for birds. Our nation’s symbol should not be collateral damage in our war on climate change.
Michael Hutchins Washington, D.C.
The writer is national coordinator with American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Program.
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