Licenced to Kill: Government Endorses Wind Industry’s Rampant Eagle Slaughter

When it comes to killing majestic raptors, ‘green’ hypocrisy is the new black. Apex avian predators are top of the food chain for 60 m wind turbine blades with their outer tips travelling at over 350 Kph.

RE zealots seem untroubled by the carnage. The usual nonsense retort is that cats, motorcars or skyscrapers kill more birds than wind turbines. Except cats are not renowned for downing healthy Eagles, Hawks or Kites – and that group of raptors rarely succumb to motorcars or tall buildings, either. Oh, and if moral equivalence is your game, motorcars and tall buildings are objects of useful necessity. Whereas a wind turbine is a pointless energy source, abandoned centuries ago, for very obvious reasons.

The wind industry itself, has spent a fortune to try and cover up the inconvenient little problem: Not Content with Lying About its Bird Slaughter-Houses, Wind Industry Sues to Cover up Death Count Data

And, when all else fails, they simply lie about it: Wind Industry Uses Fake Numbers to Cover Up Mass Bird & Bat Slaughter

For those few environmentalists who actually care about the …ahem … environment, their sense of loss and grievance is matched only by the cynicism of those who either worship or profit from these things.

One of the former, Nick Mooney, has been attempting to tackle the latter, without much luck, for years. Here he is being interviewed on wind-cult central, the ABC.

Wildlife expert Nick Mooney says eagle windfarm deaths higher than reported
ABC Radio Hobart
Georgie Burgess
4 July 2019

A wildlife expert has called for independent monitoring and studies into eagle deaths caused by windfarms, warning the problem is only going to get worse as the industry expands in Tasmania.

Under Commonwealth legislation, windfarm companies agree to “offsets” when an endangered bird is killed.

Offsets include the companies paying compensation, funding research or the protection of nest sites.

“A lot of people call it blood money — it’s compensation for killing endangered species,” wildlife biologist Nick Mooney told Leon Compton on ABC Radio Hobart.

Musselroe Wind Farm, Tasmania’s largest, has reported 11 wedge-tail eagle deaths and one white-bellied sea eagle death since it was constructed in 2013.

Mr Mooney believes the mortality rate is higher.

“We don’t know how many are killed, there is no proper study,” he said.

It is estimated there are less than 350 breeding pairs of the endangered Tasmanian wedge-tail eagles, and in 2017–18, 29 were killed by powerlines.

Mr Mooney has raised concerns with how offsets are decided and set, and said they are based on modelling and projections rather than real data.

“It’s almost a nonsense to be setting offsets on speculation,” he said.

“We’re building all these windfarms without knowing the damage we’re doing.”

The Musselroe Windfarm, owned by Woolnorth, offsets deaths through funding the protection of wedge-tail eagle nests on private land.

“The trouble is, the assumption is that will increase production of eagle chicks to compensate for deaths,” Mr Mooney said.

“But you need about 12 extra eagle chicks to compensate for every adult eagle killed at a windfarm.

“There’s no evidence the covenanting process has increased production at all.”

Mr Mooney said while there is no suggestion companies are hiding bird deaths, the system of reporting was a potential conflict of interest.

“The amount of offsets you pay is related to the number of eagles you’re found to be killing,” he said.

He said searches for dead or injured birds were often underneath and near turbines, meaning some may not be found and reported.

“Anything with wings is going to wobble off.”

Mr Mooney said real data needed to be collected, and a proper study of eagle populations around windfarms was needed.

“It’s inexcusable not to have eagles with GPS packages on them to find out how many were killed,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Environment Department said the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act set out the requirements for offset proposals and used the most recent available scientific literature.

 

Transcript

Leon Compton:  Do offsets work when it comes to protecting eagles and keeping populations around Tasmania safe? Nick Mooney’s a wildlife expert. Nick, good morning to you.

Nick Mooney: Morning Leon.

Leon Compton: What is an offset when it comes to wedge-tailed eagles and wind farms in Tasmania? Describe it in the simplest terms.

Nick Mooney:  There’s three types of offsets that can be applied. And it’s essentially under the Commonwealth legislation. And one is direct, where you compensate for deaths or mangled birds, birds that are taken out of the population. These are eagles we’re talking about. And there’s a indirect one where the offset can support research that in some way helps the birds. And there’s a what’s called a future offset, advanced offset, where you make one of those sorts of compensations in front of you doing damage, it is not immediate. And most of the offsets we have here are in relation to birds killed. So they’re kind of attempts to be direct offsets.

Leon Compton:  And that’s the one that you’re particularly interested in talking about this morning. So we’ve got these wind farms going up at a significant rates around Tasmania. But this scheme of saying, if a dead eagle is found under my turbine, I will pay x. I mean, this is a common device now.

Nick Mooney:  A lot of people call it blood money and it’s usually described in too soft of terms. It’s compensating for killing endangered species. Now, one of the problems I have is that the amount of offsets you pay is related to the number of eagles you’re found to be killing, or you report killing. We don’t know how many are killed. There is no proper study. There are searches done for underneath and near turbines and mathematical models predicting what will be killed elsewhere, but there’s no direct study. And these days it’s inexcusable not to have a whole bunch of eagles with GPS packages on them, like is done, standard procedure now. And you find out how many of those birds are killed. You find out the risks to those individual birds. You can work out what the real take is. And you work out an awful lot about the impact on the population. We simply don’t know. So it’s almost a nonsense to be setting offsets on speculation. So you have multiple errors.

Now the offset I’m particularly interested in, it’s a very common one here. And it’s through covenant, that is, put a legal protection around an eagle’s nest on private land. And the land owners pay to have the nest on their land covenanted. The trouble is, the assumption is that that will increase production of eagle chicks. To compensate for deaths, you need about 12 extra eagle chicks to compensate for every adult eagle killed at, say a wind farm. And the evidence we’ve… There’s just been a master’s student working on this issue, and there’s no evidence that the covenanting process has increased eagle production, as in chicks, at all.

And I suspect the problem there is that it was such a good idea, nobody thought it right through. There was an untidy haste to collect nests to covenant and there were all sorts of abandoned nests, and shonky nests, and a few good ones, and some of them under no risk whatsoever, covenanted because the performance criteria was the number of nests covenanted, not the extra productivity.

Leon Compton:  So let’s distil all of that. What does that mean in the context of wedge-tailed eagle populations in Tasmania, with the proliferation of wind farms now?

Nick Mooney:  Well, there can only be more eagles killed than are reported, simply because the searches are done so close to turbines that something’s just, anything that’s winged is gonna wobble off. The Americans call them walking wounded. At Woolnorth, they haven’t even had to do searches, formal searching, for five years. So who knows what’s going up there.

Leon Compton:  I mean, without wanting to malign the people doing those searches, if there is a significant cost that comes to your company from finding a dead wedged-tailed eagle, is there anyone kicking them into the shrubs?

Nick Mooney:  How would you know? I wouldn’t suggest that at all, but it’s got all the ingredients for a very basic conflict of interest. I would rather see independent stuff. It doesn’t really matter, though. I’m not too fussed about that little tension there. What I’m fussed about is not knowing how many eagles are impacted by this thing, and therefore not having the right amount of offsets set. And not even having the right offsets. This covenanting of nests hasn’t been an offset.

Leon Compton:  So what do you want to see?

Nick Mooney:  What I would like to see would be proper study of eagle populations around a couple of these wind farms, starting before the wind farms actually commission with GPS packs on the birds. A student at University of Tasmania has been doing some amazing stuff with these packs on eagles. Nothing to do with wind farms, just studying what young eagles do. The technology is almost passe now. It’s not a problem. I would like to see that, even if that became an offset, let’s get that done. It’s almost cart before the horse here. We’re all building all those wind farms without knowing the damage we’re doing.

Leon Compton:  Nick Mooney, always interesting to hear your thoughts. Thanks for coming in and sharing them this morning.
ABC Hobart

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Serge Wright says:

    The bird deaths have exposed a huge hypocrasy within our legal system. On one hand, people are rightly charged with causing eagle deaths, such as here, where the eagles were culled to increase lamb survival rates –

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/man-charged-over-alleged-killing-of-wedge-tailed-eagles-in-gippsland-20180912-p50377.html

    But, on the other hand, far more eagles are killed by the neighbouring wind farms in Victoria and the police and community remain silent.

    Ironically, if farmers want to kill eagles all they need to do is get a few wind turbines installed and rather than fines, they get paid a hefty government subsidy. Go figure?

  2. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

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