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Study: Wind farms killed 67 eagles in 5 years

By Dina Cappiello

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:00 a.m. HST, Sep 11, 2013

WASHINGTON » Wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new scientific study by government biologists.

The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation's growing wind energy industry, which has been a pillar of President Barack Obama's plans to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Wind power releases no air pollution.

But at a minimum, the scientists wrote, wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. One of the eagles counted in the study was electrocuted by a power line.

The vice president of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, said the tally was "an alarming and concerning finding."

A trade group, the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement that the figure was much lower than other causes of eagle deaths. The group said it was working with the government and conservation groups to find ways to reduce eagle casualties.

Still, the scientists said their figure is likely to be "substantially" underestimated, since companies report eagle deaths voluntarily and only a fraction of those included in their total were discovered during searches for dead birds by wind-energy companies. The study also excluded the deadliest place in the country for eagles, a cluster of wind farms in a northern California area known as Altamont Pass. Wind farms built there decades ago kill more than 60 per year.

The research affirms an AP investigation in May, which revealed dozens of eagle deaths from wind energy facilities and described how the Obama administration was failing to fine or prosecute wind energy companies, even though each death is a violation of federal law.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which employs the six researchers, has said it is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities, and seven have been referred to the Justice Department. The authors noted the study's findings do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency, although some of their data was obtained from staff.

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet's wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.

Wind farms in two states, California and Wyoming, were responsible for 58 deaths, followed by facilities in Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Utah, Texas, Maryland and Iowa.

In all, 32 facilities were implicated. One in Wyoming was responsible for a dozen golden eagle deaths, the most at a single facility.

The research was published in the Journal of Raptor Research.

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Kuokoa wrote:
Guess the eagles gotta learn not to fly into wind turbines.
on September 11,2013 | 07:11AM
Anonymous wrote:
Natural selection at work. Smart eagles don't fly into things.
on September 11,2013 | 09:16AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
both you i d i o t s, read the article-- the tips of the windmills go so fast they create tornado-like vortex conditions, i.e. birds get sucked in.
on September 11,2013 | 10:24AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Why don't we build a wind farm on our State Capitol. It might kil....ummmm...
on September 11,2013 | 07:12AM
Graham wrote:
Article said eagles...not TURKEYS...
on September 11,2013 | 09:59AM
hilopango wrote:
Good one!
on September 11,2013 | 12:08PM
gsr wrote:
So Dina how about a follow up article on how many (and what type) of birds are killed in the wind farms here.
on September 11,2013 | 07:13AM
Macadamiamac wrote:
That's reason enough to remove those ugly windmills from Waimea Valley on the North Shore... oh wait, no mo eagles ova here... How about removing those idiots who permitted them being placed there? Baboozas!
on September 11,2013 | 08:18AM
ryan02 wrote:
Eventually, all major wild animals will be extinct -- elephants, whales, tigers, lions, cheetahs, eagles, bears, wolves, rhinos, leopards, hippos, pandas, gorillas, tortoises, lynx, komodo dragons, macaws, manatees, and most other distinctive animal will be gone. On the plus side, it will be easier for preschoolers to learn the names of animals because there will only be dogs, cats, cows, chickens, pigs, rats, squirrels, snakes, cockroaches, and pigeons left. What a terrible world it will be.
on September 11,2013 | 08:19AM
retire wrote:
I understand they taste like, chicken.
on September 11,2013 | 08:20AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Bird Cuisinarts.
on September 11,2013 | 09:50AM
MightyMakiki wrote:
This wasn't to happen. The older farms, like Tehachapi, California, killed all types of birds. The newer, larger blade types were not to be killers. Alternate energy has a long way to go. How about that battery plant in Kahuku, What's the scoop with that?
on September 11,2013 | 10:00AM
cojef wrote:
Hiding the facts that the lithium batteries are highly volatile and explosive. The Dreamliners were grounded until the battteries issue were resolved. The batteries are better contained to prevent explosion. What's with Kahuku, they are mum for a reason, non of our business. Wonder how many EPA funds have been wasted to push the wind power program, could be like the solar Solyndra bamboozle, billion$ lost, only the original investors got paid off first, the insiders.
on September 11,2013 | 10:32AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Larger turbines are likely more efficient/produce more energy; perhaps smaller ones are the answer. Small enough that they pose no threat. Make many small ones instead of a few large ones. How many small to equal one large? The payback period will be longer, but the tradeoff is no wildlife loss/federal taking fines.
on September 11,2013 | 10:27AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
This makes photovoltaic that much more attractive. So passive.
on September 11,2013 | 10:55AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
This makes photovoltaic so much more attractive. Very passive, no moving parts, no pollution.
on September 11,2013 | 10:56AM
ryan02 wrote:
PV is much LESS polluting than conventional power production (oil, coal, nuclear, etc.), but there are still environmental and health hazards associated with its manufacture, use, and disposal. So I wouldn't say "no" pollution, but "much less" pollution.
on September 11,2013 | 12:07PM
sailfish1 wrote:
They will not be removing the wind turbines for 67 eagles killed over a 5 year period. Just hope that the eagles adapt to the wind turbines dangers - adapting to the environment is the key to survival.
on September 11,2013 | 02:48PM
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