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  (Source: CleanTechnica)
Annual death toll expected to rise

recent study in Klickitat County, Washington shows that active wind farms in Washington and Oregon kill more than 6,500 birds and 3,000 bats annually. 

Biologist Orah Zamora works for West, Inc., an ecological field study company, monitors the Windy Flats project, one of the largest wind farms in the United States. Zamora looks for dead birds and bats that have been severed by the spinning blades of the surrounding wind turbines in order to conduct survey's to observe how wind-power development is affecting birds. 

"It's like a crime scene, and you try to figure out what happened," said Zamora. "Sometimes it's really obvious because you can see a slice mark."

These surveys are financed by the wind industry and are mainly concerned with birds like eagles, hawks, and other raptors. Klickitat County is especially a concern because the area has an abundance of prey for these larger birds, hence, they tend to stay in the area. According to the study, these birds are diving for their prey and do not pay attention to the large wind turbine blades that may be in the way.

There are differing views between scientists, biologists and wind-energy developers as to whether birds are at high risk because no one knows what cumulative death toll will have a significant impact on the species. 

Wind-power advocates say "these deaths are an acceptable trade-off for development of a renewable energy source." They also note that man-made hazards and house cats account for tens of millions of bird-related deaths per year. According to Mike Sagrillo, a consultant who writes for the American Wind Energy Association, bird mortality "at wind farms, compared to other human-related causes of bird mortality, is biologically and statistically insignificant."

The surveys taken in Klickitat County showed that wind power is only a minor hazard to birds, but scientists say it's too early to really "discount the risks posed by the rush to develop Northwest wind power."

A survey in Klickitat County at the Big Horn Wind Farm indicated that more than 30 raptors were killed "during an initial year of operations - more than seven times the number forecast in a pre-construction study." Among the dead birds were short-eared owls, kestrels, red-tailed hawks and a ferruginous hawk. 

"We take questions and concerns of wildlife impacts very seriously," said Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for Iberdrola Renewables, which owns the Big Horn Wind Farm. 

In addition to these findings, Altamount Pass Wind Farms in California have older wind turbines from the 1980's that have killed more raptors "per megawatt of power than anywhere else in the nation." These wind farms kill more than 1,600 raptors per year.

While developers have agreed to relocate turbines away from canyon ridges where the large birds of prey spend most of their time, the death toll is still expected to rise due to the lack of information regarding what death toll is biologically significant to these birds. 

A study by West, Inc. that was paid for by the Klickitat County Planning Department showed that the turbines would kill 516 raptors each year just in the Columbia River plateau region of Oregon and Washington if the industry doubled in size. The study determined that this was not a significant number, but ecologist K. Shawn Smallwood thinks the study underestimates the number of deaths and that it's hard to conclude whether these wind turbine-related deaths would harm an entire species.



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dont forget
By shin0bi272 on 6/7/2010 12:21:07 PM , Rating: -1
The 60db constant noise too. That and the fact that they are ugly as crap and no one wants to see them. all of the wind and solar power in the us doesnt produce as much energy as the 34th largest coal mine. but we're "going green"! Anyone else tired of the environmentalists telling us how to live yet?




RE: dont forget
By Spivonious on 6/7/2010 12:37:03 PM , Rating: 1
Completely agree. This entire "green" movement has always been about improving public image. Wind/solar are just not cost effective for the amount of space they use. One nuclear plant would make a lot more sense.

And before everyone chimes in with the waste disposal "problem", in the 50 years since the U.S. has had nuclear plants, the total amount of waste generated could fit inside a football field. With newer designs, the waste amount is lowered even further. It is simply not a problem. By the time we have enough nuclear waste to worry about, we will have perfected the "next" energy source (hopefully something involving the burning of trash, since we generate so much of it).


RE: dont forget
By danobrega on 6/7/2010 12:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
It's not the "going green" that you should worry about. It's the going "sustainable". The reason is simple, you can't sustain something that is not sustainable. :)

My electric bill, from where I come from, has the following information about the sources of the energy:

Eolic: 33,0%
Hydro: 24,8%
Co-generation and Micro-production 14,0% (home solar panels)
Natural Gas: 9,3%
Nuclear: 7%
Hydro PRE: 8,2% (can't translate)
Other: 4,1%
Coal: 1,9%

I would say 33% eolic is pretty impressive.

The main problem with eolic power isn't even its cost. The problem is that it does not reduce the peek output required from other sources because there are moments where there is no wind. You can build all the wind farms you want, you'll still need the backing nuclear, coal or whatever plants.

Discussing about how many birds does a wind turbine kill is just stupid. You need to back up and look at the big picture. No matter what we decide to do to get power it's going to leave a footprint, it's more a question of how big do you want the footprint to be.


RE: dont forget
By clovell on 6/7/2010 3:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, and to understand that, sometimes you need to consider how many birds is this gonna kill if I raise the number of wind turbines ten-fold.


RE: dont forget
By omnicronx on 6/7/2010 4:53:11 PM , Rating: 2
By the same account, how many birds could this save by getting away from a traditional energy sources? Figuring out how many more birds will die is completely irrelevant if it is not weighed it against how we currently get our energy.

For example, even right now it is estimated that 10-40K birds die from wind turbines. Now lets for a minute assume that number is on the low and give it say 50k per year.

Now lets compare that against say, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 which killed an estimated 250K birds in a few days. Even if you were to increase capacity by five, it would only equal the impact of 1 large oil spill.

And as noted in my other post, regardless of energy source, power lines remain one of the leading causes for bird deaths worldwide.(including birds of prey like those being mentioned in the article) We are talking exponentially larger, as in 3000x+ more than current Wind Turbine deaths per year.


RE: dont forget
By MozeeToby on 6/7/2010 1:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
I've never understood people that think they're ugly. Personally, I find them to be elegant and attractive. And at the very least a lot more attractive than any other power plant would be.

It's true that today, at the moment, solar and wind don't account for much of our energy budget but then it is only just barely becoming economical to build solar and wind power plants. Your argument is equivalent to saying, in 1905, that cars are outnumbered by horse and buggy 1000 to 1 and are therefor worthless.

And WTF does power companies building wind turbines have to do with environmentalists telling you how to live? About the only argument that could be made is government subsidies to support solar and wind, but guess what, there's subsidies for nuclear, hydro, natural gas, and even coal power plants too.


RE: dont forget
By shin0bi272 on 6/7/2010 3:36:26 PM , Rating: 2
When did I say I was for any subsidies to any company? Fact is solar and wind are much less energy dense than coal or oil or even natural gas. It takes more money to produce less power with them and that is just a dumb thing to subsidize because it presents a veil of concern about the environment.

The environmental lobby and the consensus that we have all been pounded over the head with that global warming is our fault (even though its not)has lead congress to ban the sale of 3 gallon per flush toilets and soon the sale of incandescent light bulbs. Then there's the CAFE standards for cars ...

government bureaucrats being told by psychopaths who think that if we all went back to living in mud huts or caves that the world would be better off, are forcing us to do what they want through legislation. When that fails they start up some subsidy or some tax credit for rubes like you and me to buy products that they want us to buy... you ever see a tax credit for buying an SUV? No the credits are for buying hybrids. Any tax credit for buying an oil furnace? No the credit is for buying solar panels. You see? Its social steering to environmentalist thinking.


RE: dont forget
By shin0bi272 on 6/7/2010 3:45:32 PM , Rating: 2
Oh and if you think theyre elegant try living near one... 60db constantly drove people from their homes in england a few months ago... they cant sell the homes to anyone now because no one can tolerate the sound of a train that never comes.

There's a big difference between inventing something and forcing people to use that invention through legislation. It would be like calling everyone who rode a horse in 1905 an animal abuser and outlawed the riding of horses and gave money to people to buy a car.

The free market should decide what products are a good idea and what ones arent not some government bureaucrat or environmental lobbyist paying off a few dozen senators.


RE: dont forget
By monkeyman1140 on 6/9/2010 11:45:15 AM , Rating: 2
Its more like the free market is busy paying off a few dozen senators.

Now you know how the free market is not so free, it can buy government. To claim the environmental movement has nearly as much cash for its "take a senator out to lunch" war chest is ludicrous.


RE: dont forget
By Jeffk464 on 6/8/2010 11:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think wind power is on the same level as solar, wind power is far cheaper.


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