Eagles, wind farms don't mix. New study shows toll on birds.
The toll on eagles from wind farms is documented in a new study from government biologists. The wind industry said it was working with the government and conservation groups to find ways to reduce eagle fatalities related to wind farms.
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The research affirms an AP investigation in May, which revealed dozens of eagledeaths 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.Skip to next paragraph
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Documents obtained by the AP under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act show that in two cases in Iowa federal investigators determined that a bald eagle had been killed by blunt force trauma with a wind turbine blade. But neither case led to prosecution.
In one of the cases, a bald eagle was found with a missing wing and a leg in a corn field near a turbine at EDP Renewables North America LLC's Pioneer Prairie facility in Iowa. But the report says, "due to the sensitive nature of wind farm investigations and the fact that this investigation documented first violation for EDPR in Midwest, no charges will be pursued at this time." The report lists four other golden eagle deaths at a wind farm operated by the company in Oregon. The company did not return emailed questions about the incidents from the AP.
The 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.
Meanwhile, the wind energy industry has pushed for, and the White House is currently evaluating, giving companies permission to kill a set number of eagles for 30 years. The change extends by 25 years the permit length in place now, but it was not subjected to a full environmental review because the administration classified it as an administrative change.
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.
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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