study in Klickitat County, Washington shows that active wind
farms in Washington and Oregon kill more than 6,500 birds and 3,000
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.
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."
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.
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
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
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."
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
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.
take questions and concerns of wildlife impacts very seriously,"
said Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for Iberdrola Renewables, which owns
the Big Horn Wind Farm.
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.
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
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.