Wind energy effects on wildlife | Living the Country Life

Wind energy effects on wildlife

Millions of bats and birds are colliding with wind turbines

By the year 2050, it’s expected that 35% of our energy will come from the wind, saving us money and resources. But it could be costly to our wildlife.

Dr. Michael Hutchins is the bird-smart wind energy campaign director for the American Bird Conservancy. He says birds and bats fly into the turbine blades and collide with towers and power lines.

Wind companies have conducted a few studies on the impact.
"Based on a couple of these studies, we determine that around 5-million birds will be lost to turbines alone annually by 2050. Now if you include collisions with associated powerlines and towers, we’re talking an additional 12-to-64-million birds being taken annuall," says Hutcins. "That’s hardly trivial, especially when it involves threatened or endangered species."

Hutchins says long-term, this could have serious economic consequences. Birds and bats are worth billions of dollars in pest control, pollination, and seed distribution.
One key to reducing their mortality is to properly assess a site before putting up the wind turbine.

"They really shouldn’t be built in areas that have high concentrations of birds and bats, particularly threatened and endangered species, federally protected species like eagles," says Hutchins. "And that involves having independent experts assessing these areas and deciding whether or not the impacts are going to be great if they’re put in those places."

He says you can help by being aware of wind turbine development and checking to see if they’re being put up in areas that are sensitive to wildlife such as mountain ridges and coastal areas.

The American Wind Wildlife Institute has more information on the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife

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