Wind Farm vs Eagles?

9 Jan 2012

Golden Eagle

No energy source is without some negative effects.  There are a number of sources raising concerns  regarding the placement of wind farms and injuries to birds and bats.  Some states, like New York, require this be addressed as part of siting , but not all do.  As this is largely a local or state issue, the federal government doesn’t usually get involved.

However, I was surprised by a recent US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Draft Assessment that would allow the deaths of up to three golden eagles over a five year period, provided that the wind farm developer take steps to foster eagle reproduction to replace those killed.  The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. § 668a, prohibits the “taking” of an eagle (including killing, harassing, or disturbing, the birds or their nests) unless affirmative permitted by the USFWS.

While the Golden Eagle is more rare in Michigan, this past summer, the USFWS estimated that there are more than 1400 Bald Eagles in the State, so this is not a hypothetical concern here as wind becomes the primary focus for utilities trying to meet the State’s Renewable Energy Standard law.

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