Wildlife Wipeout

Wind Turbines Kill Winged Creatures




J. Marijs/Shutterstock.com

Wind turbines make cleaner energy, but are dangerous to birds and bats. According to a study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, approximately 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats are killed annually by wind turbines, which are providing increased wind power capacity nationwide. At one solar power plant in California, an estimated 3,500 birds died in just the plant’s first year of operation.

What would help most is offshore turbines and knowledge about migration routes. The safest place for wind turbines is in the ocean, because songbirds and bats don’t migrate over such waters. On land, many songbirds fly at night and can’t see the wind turbines until it’s too late. Once they’ve discovered the unsafe area, they avoid it. Because migration routes are based on availability of food, water and resting areas, birds are forced to fly around the turbines, adding miles to their trip and the burning of more calories.

Estimates of just how many bats are dying each year range from the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. Radar installations help to keep bats away from the deadly blades. Other remedies include slowing the blades at night to reduce collisions, which has proved to reduce overall wildlife deaths by 73 percent.

In 2016 the American Wind Energy Association announced voluntary guidelines to halt turbines during low wind speeds, when bats are most active, to reduce bat fatalities by 30 percent. With two more industry changes, bat fatalities could drop 90 percent: feathering, or turning the blades parallel to the wind so the turbines don’t rotate; and higher cut-in speeds so they don’t rotate in light winds.


Take action at NationOfChange.org/petitions/protect-bats-lethal-wind-turbines.


This article appears in the October 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Bug Apocalypse

The number of invertebrates and insects such as moths, butterflies and bees has dropped worldwide by 45 percent in the last 35 years, raising alarm about the global ecosystem.

Fish Revival

Following the removal two years ago of an obsolete dam, shad have returned to New Jersey’s Millstone River for the first time since 1845.

Horse Sense

The wild horse herds on North Carolina’s Outer Banks survived Hurricane Florence by huddling on high ground, hiding in maritime forests, and possibly by swimming.

Bat Cave Rescue

A fungus known as white-nose syndrome is decimating U.S. bat species, but scientists hope that genetic strategies and cave treatments will turn the situation around.

Mind Meld

Scientists are making progress toward using brain implants to help speech-paralyzed patients "voice" their thoughts.

Add your comment: