“Wind farms are the main cause. The issuing of license to kill will accelerate the decline toward extinction.”—Save the Eagles International
An East County Magazine Special Report
By Miriam Raftery
January 6, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County’s 48 pairs of nesting golden eagles and even rarer bald eagles could be in peril if proposed industrial-scale wind farms are built. In a press release issued today, Save the Eagles International (STEI) issued a dire warning, providing detailed documentation proving that golden eagles and their nests are disappearing rapidly near wind farms across the U.S.
The group also blasted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for changing its mission from protecting wildlife to “catering to the interests of an industry” that is a “ruinous one to boot.”
Eagle killed by wind turbine
Although the studies focused on golden eagles, if no major action is taken, wind turbines' razor-sharp blades will also threaten the existence of other species, STEI predicts.
The international group "solemnly warns the Western States that the biologically-blind policies will cause the extinction of the Golden Eagle, the California Condor, and other species of raptors.” Also at risk are species in Eastern and Central states, such as the Whooping Crane.
This week, wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand, Vice President of SEI, examined park records and found that at least half of the golden eagles nests (5 of 10) in the vicinity of the Altamont Pass wind farm in northern California have disappeared since 2005. (Eagles mate for life and return to the same nest year after year. Wiegand provided detailed maps of former and current locations as evidence.)
But the devastation is far worse—and could quadruple in the near future. At Altamont alone, 116 golden eagles have been reported killed by the turbine blades each year. That’s 2,900 dead golden eagles over the wind farm’s 25 year history.
Now, regulators have approved reducing old turbines at Altamont with fewer but larger turbines that have bigger blade sweeps—doubling the power output in a move that “could be killing four times as many golden eagles as with the old turbines,” according to SEI.
New turbines such as those planned for East County tower hundreds of feet tall with blade spans as large as many jetliners—far larger than the existing turbines on tribal lands. Some are planned on National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands that until a few years ago were protected as wilderness, but were opened up for energy development by the Bush administration, a step the Obama administration has not reversed but instead, used as an opportunity to fast-track numerous large-scale wind and solar projects in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Link to the Full Article and more photos
Hancock Wildlife Foundation