Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bird and Bat Kills

Innocent Victims
There are hundreds of articles and websites that reveal the bloody truth about large wind farms: world-wide, both birds and bats have been killed by the turbines. At a June 16, 2011, Culver Kiwanis meeting, a NextEra representative was asked if birds have been killed by wind turbines and he stated that yes, some birds would be killed, then he added that according to the company’s studies, “more birds are killed in the United States by feral cats than by wind turbines.” It should be pointed out that bird mortality caused by wind farms is averaged across the country, so while one turbine in a remote area may only have a few (reported) bird or bat deaths associated with it, another which has been placed in or near a migratory path or area that has a high number of song birds and water fowl, may end up killing literally thousands of the creatures. By averaging the numbers nation-wide, local mortality rates end up being watered down. Additionally, wind farms are being erected at a very fast pace, so statistics about bird and bat kills become obsolete pretty quickly and should be constantly updated.
Although, according to an article in the Rochester Sentinel, NextEra says it plans to put up netting to determine the number of birds and bats in the area, long-term studies of bird and bat populations and (when applicable) migratory patterns through Marshall County should be conducted by an independent group of which all interested parties approve. A raptor specialist in Pennsylvania, Dr. Laurie Goodrich, informs us that such a study of raptors in all directions within several miles of Lake Maxinkuckee, for example, is desperately needed and, in fact, is completely lacking.
  • Song birds may actually be attracted to the red lights positioned on top of wind  turbines. This has resulted in thousands of birds being killed at night in the Southwest U.S.
  • The rotating blades of the turbines alter the air pressure around them and this appears to be key to the bat problem. In some areas, bats have been found dead beneath or near wind turbines, yet they have no apparent injury. Autopsies have shown that the bats’ lungs and blood vessels exploded because of the change in air pressure caused by the rotating blades. Red bats, Silver-hair bats, and Hoary bats appear to be the most vulnerable to wind turbine kills.
  • Golden Eagles have been found decapitated by wind turbines in Northern California.
Obviously, the location of any grouping of wind turbines is a major factor. Given the proximity of this proposed project to Lake Maxinkuckee, and the fact that there are streams and wetlands nearby, the Tippecanoe River and Bass Lake to the west, as well as farm land and wooded areas, it is a given that water birds ranging from ducks and loons to herons, birds of prey including hawks, owls, and even eagles, and thousands of song birds and other migraters, are attracted to this part of Indiana. And although people don’t want to have a bat in their house, this creature, particularly vulnerable to wind turbines, is absolutely vital to insect control both near the water and out in the farm land. With West Nile virus being so widespread, birds and bats that feed on mosquitoes are by far more preferable than a broad range use of pesticides. Formal studies of various bird and bat species populations in Southwest Marshall County, IN, are almost completely lacking and should be carried out over a long period of time In order to include all seasons, migratory paths, and nesting sites. 
         Resources and References:

Rochester Sentinel:  Wednesday, July 6, 2011,  p.1

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