Wind turbines are a critical piece of a cleaner future, but they’re turning out to be anything but good for some critical wildlife.
Scientists say the spinning blades are killing an alarming number of bats that are needed to help farmers kill off crop-eating insects.
The specific species of bats – hoary bats – are helpful because they love to eat nocturnal insects, according to Dr. Winifred Frick, chief scientist at Bat Conservation International.
“Actually provide real economic value to America’s farmers,” Frick said. “It’s been estimated that bats provide in the billions of services to America’s farmers in terms of eating all sorts of different crop pests.”
Frick said wind farms are killing swaths of these bats, which can fly as high as 8,000 feet during their long distance migrations in the fall.
“About a third of the bats that we know that show up underneath turbines as carcasses are hoary bats,” Frick said.
Frick said there’s still time to save the hoary bat population, saying there are ways wind farms can reduce the number of dead bats piling up around turbines.
“We know that most of the bat fatality occurs during low wind speed conditions during the fall migratory season, so by changing the wind speeds at which we allow the turbine blades to spin, we can actually dramatically reduce the number of bats killed and still produce quite a bit of energy,” she said.
NBC Bay Area reached out to American Clean Power Association, which represents renewable energy companies, but did not immediately hear back.
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