7/2108 Bat and Bird Update
When it comes to industrial wind turbines and bats and birds, the news continues to be bad all over the country. Bats are slow to reproduce and generally do not have many young. Because of this, any negative impact on the bat population is significant. The wind developers continue to downplay the negative effects on wild life but the truth is begining to surface.
Here are just a few of the many recent news stories on this grim subject.
Judith Gap Wind Farm taking toll on bats, birds
(Click here to read story at its source)
(Click here to read more about wind turbines and their impact on wildlife)
July 20, 2008
by Karl Puckett
in Great Falls Tribune
An estimated 1,200 bats, most of them probably just passing through
Montana, were killed after striking wind turbines at the Judith Gap
Wind Farm between July 2006 and May 2007, according to a
post-construction bird and bat survey.
The number surprised Invenergy, which owns the farm, as well as government and private wildlife experts.
"It's killing 1,200 bats a year and that's a lot more than anybody
anticipated," said Janet Ellis of Montana Audubon, a bird conservation
TRC Solutions of Laramie, Wyo., completed the survey work on behalf of Chicago-based Invenergy.
Frank Pizzileo, Invenergy's director of wind-asset management, said
the study concluded this spring and is currently being finalized.
An estimated 1,206 bats, or 13.4 bats for each of the 90 turbines,
were killed as they flew through the wind farm between July 2006 and
May 2007, the study states.
The turbines are 262-feet tall with blades that sweep 253 feet in diameter.
The study estimates that 406 birds, or 4.52 birds per turbine, were killed during the study period.
The bird fatality rates are similar to those at other wind plants in
the United States, the study states. But the estimated number of bat
fatalities was higher than those reported at other wind farms in the
Western United States, according to the study.
"It does seem to be a bit of a bat highway," said Allison Puchniak
Begley, a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks native species biologist
Ellis and Puchniak Begley serve on a technical advisory committee
that Invenergy agreed to form to help monitor bird and bat mortalities
after the facility opened in January 2006.
Judith Gap's turbines spread across 8,300 acres of private and state
school trust land 125 miles southeast of Great Falls between the towns
of Judith Gap and Harlowton.
For the study, bird and bat carcasses were collected monthly at
survey plots at 20 of the wind farm's 90 turbines from August to
October in 2006 and February to May in 2007. Carcasses that were found
incidentally - outside of the official searches - also were included as
part of the study.
A total of 62 carcasses were found - 36 bats and 26 birds.
The casualty estimates of 1,200 bats and 400 birds were calculated using a mathematical formula based on the sampling.
"We just don't know enough about bats in Montana, migration corridors or anything," Ellis said.
Wind farms in the Eastern United States have reported higher bat
fatality rates than Judith Gap, but those wind farms were located on
mountain ridge tops where migrating bats presumably were concentrated,
the study states. The Judith Gap facility is on the plains.
Bats show an unexplained tendency to collide with the blades of wind
turbines in some locations of the country, said Mark Wilson, field
supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, adding there are 16
species of bats in Montana, including six that are "species of special
concern," which means they are uncommon and need monitoring.
The hoary bat, a species that can have a wingspan of up to 16
inches, was the most common species killed, with 17 carcasses found in
the study. Four of the dead animals were silver-haired bats. Another 14
bats couldn't be identified.
Both the hoary and silver-haired bats live in the forests of
southern Canada and migrate through Montana in the late summer on their
way to warmer climes.
"They are big pest-control species that eat their body weight in bugs every night," Ellis said.
The new information from the Judith Gap Wind Farm could be of help
to developers in siting future wind farms, Puchniak Begley said.
"It's green energy, but it can be greener when it's better sited," she said.
Not much research has been done on bats in Montana, so there's
little information available about their migration pathways, said
Kristi Dubois, native species coordinator for FWP and the head of the
Montana Bat Working Group.
With wind development on the rise, the impact of the turbines on bats is a major concern of biologists, she said.
Despite the bat fatality numbers, Judith Gap is a well-sited wind
farm because it is close to roads and cropland and doesn't break up a
lot of native land, Puchniak Begly said.
It's possible the effect on bats could be mitigated with some simple adjustments, she added.
For example, studies at wind farms in the Eastern United States
showed that a large number were killed on nights when it wasn't very
windy. She suggested starting some turbines at Judith Gap only after
wind speeds pick up.
Invenergy's Pizzileo said the number of bats killed was higher than
the environmental assessment completed before construction projected.
The company is working with the technical advisory committee, state and
federal wildlife regulators and conservation groups to determine what
steps to take next.
"These next steps will be publicly available soon," he said.
Ellis said she is pleased the company is willing to work with the committee.
"They don't have to do that," she said.
The study comes as developers are prospecting for wind and planning
wind facilities in a wind-rich zone between Great Falls and the
Canadian border along the proposed Montana Alberta Tie Line
transmission line route that would connect the electrical grids in the
Electric City and Lethbridge, Alberta.
"We are concerned with possible significant bat mortality from wind
power projects that are connected to the MATL transmission line,"
Wilson wrote in a letter to Anthony Como, the U.S. Department of
Energy's director of permitting and siting.
Wilson's comments were part of the Fish and Wildlife Service's
official comments on the MATL line to the DOE and the state Department
of Environmental Quality, which are jointly preparing an environmental
impact statement on the project.
A draft EIS conservatively estimated that 400 to 533 wind turbines could be constructed along the proposed line.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is encouraging wind farm developers to
complete preconstruction bat monitoring using acoustic and radar
detectors, in addition to post-construction monitoring.
"There's no getting around it, (turbines) do kill birds and they do
kill bats," said Kevin Van Koughnett of Calgary-based TransAlta Wind,
which has wind farms 250 miles north of Great Falls in Pincher Creek,
However, he said it is important to keep the deaths in context. Far
more birds and bats are killed by buildings and cars than by wind
turbines, he said. The rule of thumb in the industry is that for every
bird killed by a turbine, thousands more are killed in other ways, Van
He added that his company is cooperating with bat research being conducted by the University of Calgary.
Web link: http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/art...
Weather Influences Wind Turbine Fatalities(Click here to link to source)
wind energy installations within a region have documented similar
timing in fatalities, suggesting that a weather pattern can have
Most bats that get killed at wind
turbine sites are on their fall migration. Observations at the
Mountaineer Wind Energy Center in West Virginia reveal that bats don't
just pass through wind turbine installations.
actually investigate the turbines by repeatedly flying by and
approaching the blades. The animals will follow a moving blade and some
even become trapped in the air vortices near a blade's tip. Rotating
blades end up smacking the more unfortunate bats. Hundreds of dead and
injured bats have been found beneath the wind turbines at the West
Bats that roost in trees, such
as hoary bats, are the most frequent victims of this and 19 wind-energy
facilities studied in United States and Canada. Some turbines are also
death traps for female bats in spring. Pregnant Brazilian bats died at
a wind energy site in Oklahoma and female silver-haired bats were
killed by turbines in Tennessee and Alberta.
(Click here to read article at its source)
(To read a Washington Post article called "Researchers Alarmed by Bat Deaths by Wind Turbines", click here)
(To read New Scientist article called "Bats take a Battering at Wind Farms" click here)
(or, just Google "bats, wind turbines" and browse the multitude of results of that search.)
"Turbines Must Deal with the Birds and the Bats"
and it appeared in the Daily News Record of Harrisonburg, Virginia
(Click here to read this article at it's source)
environmental impact of Virginia's first wind farm in Highland County
could shed light on how successful such farms will be in the Valley,
state officials say.
agencies, led by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries,
will monitor the Highland New Wind Development LLC's 20 wind turbines
to see how federally protected bats and birds are affected.
are concerned that inland wind farms on the East Coast could kill large
numbers of common bats, and possibly affect the federally protected
Indiana bat and Virginia big-eared bat, according to the State
The commission approved the Highland County project this week but required the developers to study its impact on the animals.
still have no experience in Virginia," said Ken Schrad, an SCC
spokesman. "The Highland project, with its monitoring and mitigation
program, will provide that experience for future projects."
in Highland County could reveal information on how and when bats are
killed at the sites, and offer ways to prevent future deaths, said
Richard Reynolds, a game department wildlife biologist.
looks as though any facility in the East will have high bat
fatalities," Reynolds said. "The concern is that if we build thousands
of turbines to provide renewable energy, [and] if we don't do something
to minimize these impacts, they could have a significant negative
impact on bats."
Not Enough Research
U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service has seen
more applications for wind farms from developers who want to get
permitted in a shorter amount of time, said Thomas Chapman, a field
supervisor with the department.
the agency supports renewable clean energy, state and federal officials
are concerned for species like the endangered Indiana bat, Virginia
big-eared bat, federally protected bald and golden eagles, and the West
Virginia northern flying squirrel.
"We've identified some fairly serious concerns as far as building [wind farms] in certain locations," he said.
month, those worries led to the department's opposition of another wind
farm proposed by an unnamed developer in Rockingham County in Virginia,
and Pendleton and Hardy counties in West Virginia. The farm would cover
large swaths of habitat for two endangered bats and the bald and golden
eagles, as well as land in the George Washington National Forest.
Fish and Wildlife Service recommended the unnamed developers
voluntarily apply for an "incidental take permit" and a Habitat
Conservation Plan, if they decide to move ahead with the project. The
plans offset harmful effects the projects might have on the species,
and the permits authorize the "incidental [killing, harming or
harassing] of federally listed species," according to the Fish and
the SCC approved the Highland County project, its developers have not
applied for an incidental take permit or developed a conservation plan,
said John Flora, the attorney representing the project. The Highland
County developers, Flora said, may pursue a conservation plan and
incidental take permit in the future.
Learning From Highland
aren't sure how bats and birds in Virginia would be affected because no
wind farm has yet been built in the state, Reynolds said.
bat mortality, however, has been observed at wind farms in
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, West Virginia and Canada, he said,
indicating a risk.
the Highland site, biologists will study bat activity in relation to
climate conditions such as wind, weather and temperature, to identify
when most bats are killed, he said.
example, Reynolds said, most bats have been killed at wind farms during
fall migration. During this time, biologists may slow down the turbines
to protect the bats, he said.
"That will hopefully minimize fatalities to the bats and operational adjustments a facility would have to make," Reynolds said.
from James Madison University's College of Integrated Science and
Technology may also work with state agencies to conduct research, Flora
"JMU has a very strong focus on green energy, how it works and what the impacts are," Flora said.
Without more research, Chapman said, common species of bats could be threatened in the future.
more of these facilities are built across the landscape, more of the
common species may be at risk and more of those bats [could be]
federally listed," he said.