Wind impact on birds is minimal
By John Anderson
American Wind Energy Association
John Anderson, is the director of siting policy for the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, D.C.
The recent Sustainable Business Oregon article, "Oregon wind farm first to ask for permission to harm birds," focuses on an important issue that the energy industry is constantly coping with.
The wind industry has been especially proactive in its efforts to minimize its impact on local and regional wildlife populations — to the best of our knowledge, more so than any other industry on either a voluntary or compulsory basis. As a result, by and large, the wind industry has been very successful in protecting wildlife – bald and golden eagles included – through improved siting practices and expects advancements in this area to further reduce our impacts in the future.
Regarding eagles, based on existing publicly available data, wind energy appears to be responsible for less than 1 percent of human-related eagle fatalities, ranking well below lead poisoning (from eating prey that has been shot by hunters), poisoning in general, illegal shooting, electrocutions on and collisions with power lines (specifically, smaller distribution lines that serve fossil fuel production areas), collisions with vehicles, and even drownings in livestock watering tanks.
The recent Sustainable Business Oregon article by Lee van der Voo, unfortunately, does not accurately demonstrate just how seriously the wind power industry is taking even its relatively low impacts and working proactively and cooperatively with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and conservation community to find ways to further reduce them.
Through the American Wind Wildlife Institute and other organizations such as the Oregon Eagle Foundation, the wind power industry and environmental groups have been funding research designed to better understand eagle population size and dynamics, how eagles behave around turbines, and how to better avoid and mitigate impacts.
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