US Study Finds Wind Farms Slaughtering Local & Migrating Eagles Alike

Beheaded Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle: takes one for the Planet …

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Wind turbines killing more than just local birds, study finds
Purdue University
Brian Wallheimer
28 September 2016

EST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Wind turbines are known to kill large birds, such as golden eagles, that live nearby. Now there is evidence that birds from up to hundreds of miles away make up a significant portion of the raptors that are killed at these wind energy fields.

Using DNA from tissue and stable isotopes from the feathers of golden eagle carcasses, researchers from Purdue University and the U.S. Geological Survey found that golden eagles killed at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in northern California can come from hundreds of miles away.

Golden eagles are a species of conservation concern, so understanding population-level differences and how individuals interact with turbines is key to meeting a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service target of no net loss to their populations.

The APWRA is one of the oldest wind farms in the country and one of the largest in the world originally with around 5,000 turbines.

Worldwide, such facilities have been responsible for the deaths of 140,000 to 328,000 birds and 500,000 to 1.6 million bats, raising questions about their effects on population sustainability.

“Eagles tend to use that habitat around the turbines. It’s windy there, so they can save energy and soar, and their preferred prey, California ground squirrels, is abundant there,” said J. Andrew DeWoody, a Purdue professor of genetics in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. “As they soar, these eagles are often looking straight down, and they fail to see the rapidly moving turbine blades. They get hit by the blades, and carcasses are found on the ground under the turbines.”

Collaborator David Nelson, a stable isotope ecologist with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, tested the birds’ feathers for stable hydrogen isotopes, which can be used to determine where the birds likely grew their feathers.

The research team determined that about 75 percent of the 62 birds were from the local population. The remaining 25 percent likely migrated into the area before they were killed.

Isotopes are atoms of an element that have different molecular weights. As precipitation moves inland, water with the heavier form of hydrogen falls out first, which creates predictable patterns of the stable isotopes ratios of precipitation across continents.

“When a bird drinks water or eats animals in a particular place, the hydrogen isotope ratios of precipitation in that area get recorded in its tissues,” Nelson said. “You can use these hydrogen ratios in the feathers to determine the approximate place that the bird grew its feathers.”

A genetic analysis revealed that golden eagles from the western U.S. have gene pools similar to those killed at the APWRA, which reflects the capacity of these birds to disperse widely.

“The population models we built confirm that the age structure of the eagles killed at Altamont is difficult to replicate without substantial immigration,” said co-author Todd Katzner, a wildlife biologist with the USGS. Katzner said these findings suggest that environmental assessments of alternative energy facilities like Altamont Pass should take into consideration that animal populations affected by wind turbines might not be just local.

“If you only consider local birds in an environmental assessment, you’re not really evaluating the effect that facility may have on the entire population,” Katzner said.

DeWoody said that wind energy generators can receive permits that allow a certain number of unintended bird deaths. But if that number is too large, the companies could be fined. And knowing that a large percentage of the birds killed are from neighboring states could muddy the management waters.

“The golden eagle fatalities at this one site have demonstrated consequences that extend across much of the range of the species across North America,” DeWoody said.

The golden eagle population is a concern for several state and federal agencies, DeWoody added. He said future research could include looking at more bird species affected by turbines.

The study was published in Conservation Biology on Wednesday (Sept. 28) and is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12836.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife funded this study.
Purdue University

golden-eagle-altamont-400x300

Interstate trip ends badly for golden eagle…

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

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  2. But if ONE duck is found covered in oil after an oil spill…

  3. Jim Wiegand says:

    By the way, the image of a man kneeling over a golden eagle is a horrific story……………. The right wing of this golden eagle was discovered at Altamont on March 13, 2009 near a turbine declared “safer” for raptors by the wind industry. The injured eagle was captured 27 days later on April 9, 2009. The wandering and starving eagle was also found far from the turbines. This is significant because most of the wandering dead are not accounted for in wind industry studies. Wind turbines victims like this golden eagle travel great distances away from the wind industry’s tiny search areas used to conceal wind farm mortality.

  4. Jim Wiegand says:

    This recent report from Purdue and the USGS made national news stating that birds from as far as 100 miles away are getting caught in turbine blades. It was nothing but a few crumbs of truth for the ignorant from the green energy criminals. The insanity of this so called news is that the Interior Department (USGS and USFWS) has known this for at least 20 years. It has been no secret, except to the public that the mortality footprint of all wind turbines extends out thousands of miles due to the dispersal and migration patterns of many species. A perfect example of all this took place in Jun 2013 with an endangered White-throated Needletail – the world’s fastest flying bird. This incredibly rare and fabulous bird had traveled thousands miles only to be killed by a turbine while hardcore birdwatchers in the UK watched in horror.
    If access had been given to ethical scientists, it would have been proven 15-20 years ago that golden eagles from thousands of miles away in Alaska’s northern Brooks range, were being killed by wind turbines in the lower 48 states. But because of fraud, collusion, and corruption, credible scientific research like this that has been deliberately avoided for decades by the Interior Department.

  5. My 7 year old granddaughter was horrified when she saw a very large bird with a wing span of about 3 feet being hauled away from under a turbine in broad daylight. She screamed as we drove by, so we all saw it as well. She’s a lover of birds and has been a bird watcher her whole life; born into a family of avid bird watchers/lovers. It’s hard to imagine what went through her mind and became an indelible image as she realized the bird had been killed by the turbine up above.

  6. UGH. I swear that something or someone came and sucked the brains out of these eco-terrorists. There is no other word for them really. They are so hell bent on shutting down oil, they are aren’t looking at any other data, other than that which adheres to their rigid insanity. Follow the money.

  7. Reblogged this on Patti Kellar.

  8. Reblogged this on citizenpoweralliance.

  9. Reblogged this on Jaffer's blog.

  10. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Cue the outrage from green and wildlife groups!

    Oh no, that’s right…it’s more important to scar pristine landscapes with industrial wind turbines, producing inefficient, expensive, costly, weather dependent power whilst slaughtering rare eagles, migrating birds and bats in order to “SAVE THE PLANET”!

    What planet are we living on?

    Insanity of a titanic scale and outright hypocrisy.

    • That’s so true–windmills are supposedly green, so potentially causing the extinction of various birds and bats is no big deal. OOPS! But a few waterfowl dying in a tailings pond costs the oil industry millions! Go figure

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