Local Officials: Do Wind Turbines Affect Wildlife? Livestock?

May 22, 2019

I know it’s fashionable to get your alternative facts from Facebook and internet rumors, but I still prefer the old fashioned way – asking people who know stuff.

I asked a number of local officials in communities with wind farms, and one Audobon Society expert, if there are any negatives for wildlife from having a wind farm nearby.

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15 Responses to “Local Officials: Do Wind Turbines Affect Wildlife? Livestock?”

  1. Keith McClary Says:

    “sited appropriately”
    The problem in the southern Alberta foothills is that the turbines are located on ridgetops where raptors like to soar on the updrafts. The owners do not welcome environmentalists onto their property to count bird (or bat) kills.

  2. Canman Says:

    I find that video rather unimpressive with lots of anecdotal accounts. The real issue is endangered raptors and bats. They’re clearly not being decimated by cats. If you want to power the world primarily with wind and solar, you’re going to need a lot more wind turbines. I’d be surprised if a nuclear power plant would ever kill very many bats or raptors, even if it had a meltdown (Some probably fly into power lines. I actually once found a dead red tailed hawk on the edge of a highway. he appeared to have a broken neck. I don’t know if it was from a vehicle or power line).

  3. rsmurf Says:

    So the situation is we destroy the planet, scar the landscape and kill birds, fish, and other sea life and ground life with oil spills, drilling rigs, open oil pits, release of massive amounts of co2, etc. Or those nasty wind turbines kill birds. Im a huge bird fan have documented 125+ birds on our property. But when you weigh the 2 sides fossil fuels do many more times the damage of wind turbines. And hopefully we are on our way to better storage so we can get rid of ALL fossil fuels, and turbines and just have solar and storage. But until your fossil fuel is less destructive (and that aint gonna happen) we are stuck with the better option of wind turbines!

  4. jimbills Says:

    There is no such thing as zero impact. A man can just walk across an open field and there is environmental impact. I kill thousands of bugs a day just in my daily life. I don’t mean to do it, I don’t want to do it, but my existence causes it. Building structures anywhere causes an impact. Creating goods for sale on the market causes an impact.

    Birds are killed by wind turbines:
    https://www.audubon.org/news/will-wind-turbines-ever-be-safe-birds

    But….there is a clear math that isn’t discussed much on this issue, which is, impact is unavoidable, but what actions create the most disturbance?

    Our choices are:

    1) Cause no impact. In effect, stop existing, or refuse energy and material goods.

    2) Ignore our impacts, which will lead to massive destruction over time.

    3) Fairly and accurately calculate impacts to live with the lowest amount possible, then choose the activities that result in that lowest impact.

    There’s no question that fossil fuels have a much higher impact than wind power:
    https://cleantechnica.com/2018/02/21/wind-power-results-bird-deaths-overall/

    Additionally, these questions should be asked to those who dismiss climate change and environmental questions:

    1) Will fossil fuel power last forever?

    2) If not, and if society wants to maintain an energy supply, what replaces it?

    3) Assuming it takes time to replace fossil fuel energy, isn’t it better to start that process well before fossil fuels run out?

    People can’t think clearly on these issues. The anti-wind people are using post-hoc reasoning when mentioning bird deaths as a reason to not use it – in other words, they don’t like it in the first place, and they are finding a rationalization to support that. Bird deaths, of which they don’t seem to worry about from fossil fuel plants, skyscrapers, electrical wires, or vehicle collisions are UNAVOIDABLE if society wants to run the way it is. But there are ways to limit those impacts if people are willing – and if they actually care about the birds.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Can the eventual total of wind turbines kill as many birds (and wildlife) as the fossil fuel industries? Has anyone measured the impact of tailpipe and smokestack emissions on bird respiratory health? How about oil spills into waterways and strip mine effluvia?

      Then there’s the power grid itself. Many birds get killed on power lines; conversely, nesting platforms on utility poles/structures can increase raptor populations (who love the cleared rights-of-way providing more accessible food).

      • jimbills Says:

        “Can the eventual total of wind turbines kill as many birds (and wildlife) as the fossil fuel industries?”

        It’s a reasonable question. Peter posted something several years back on this with a relevant figure:
        https://climatecrocks.com/2013/05/20/why-coal-and-nuclear-plants-kill-far-more-birds-than-wind-power/

        “wind farms are responsible for roughly 0.27 avian fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while nuclear power plants involve 0.6 fatalities per GWh and fossil-fueled power stations are responsible for about 9.4 fatalities per GWh.”

        Now, that’s one study. Other studies could provide an averaged rating with a more solid footing.

        The Audubon article I linked is an important read. There are multiple ways to reduce bird kills – bright blades can attract insects, and thereby attract birds – but the largest might be where they are sited. Placing them near known habitats will obviously cause more problems.

        The best option would be to just reduce consumption and power use – but that’s not a tactic our society is willing (or maybe even able) to do.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          Ach, I went back to look at that post, and realize I hadn’t considered the side-effects of uranium mining, which, AIUI, produces higher rates of heavy metals because of the nature of source ore. (Of course total volumes of nasty waste are much, much greater for coal mines.)

  5. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Watching birds fly in, out and through wind blown tree canopies, am totally skeptical that they will hit, or be hit, by slow moving relative tinny turbine blades.
    Should it actually happen, individual loss beats the hell out of total species loss by AGW.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The problem is with raptors and scavengers who don’t watch where they’re flying, as they just wheel across the sky with their eyes and attention focused on the ground below.

    • jimbills Says:

      The outer tips of the blades average 120 mph, and can reach 180 mph. They look slow from far away, but they are moving quickly on the edges if there is wind. If they are sited near known bird habitats, there are losses. Watch the Audubon guy in the video closely – siting for the turbines is vital.

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      Sad to be incorrect. Why in hell does rymeswithgirlie deserve a thummy down?

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Don’t know why RWG got a thummy—there are a few sickos here that give them for no discernible reason other than their impotence at not being smart or brave enough to enter into discussion. Watch—-I’ll get one or two for this comment.

        All of this yadda-yadda is a waste of our time—-wind turbines are NOT a major source of bird deaths, although the problem will get larger as more turbines are constructed. As the Audubon guy said, siting is important—there ARE a very few sites that have caused a lot of bird deaths because of their placement.

        Do a Google of “causes of bird deaths” and just look at the “teaser” lines in the hits—some examples:

        “…..in the United States wind turbines kill between 20,000 and 573,000 birds per year”, Compare that to the other major causes of bird deaths as follows and then find something more significant to worry about.

        “Cats that live in the wild or indoor pets allowed to roam outdoors kill from 1.4 billion to as many as 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year, says a new study that escalates a decades-old debate over the feline threat to native animals.

        “Between 365 and 988 million birds die from crashing into windows in the United States each year,

        “As many as 340 million birds die in collisions with U.S. vehicles every year,

        “…between 8 million and 57 million birds are killed in the United States annually from collisions with electric utility lines—-Oil pits kill about 500,000 to 1 million” US birds per year

        • redskylite Says:

          The thumbs up and down are extremely poorly programmed on wordpress, if you accidentally/clumsily give a thumbs down instead of up you cannot undo the action. You can also give thumbs even when not logged in, and can give thumbs multiple times to exaggerate the emotion/logic/reception as I once discovered in a fit of anger (after not taking the blood pressure tablets).

          You should say what you think, not to be effing popular, but to be true to self, irrespective of reception.

          I found that running a addon called “noscript” under “Chrome” and Mozilla “Firefox” suppresses the thumbs and lets you relax without judgement.

          Down with the thumbs up/down idea -we are not a bunch of primary schoolkids.
          Ban the thumbs it is open to trolls, spivs and vagabonds.

          • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

            Considering the often WTF spread of thumbies, good points. Shall continue to up ‘deserving new’ contributors as encouragement. ‘We’ are definitely not primary schoolkids, not so sure some are passed secondary school levels.

  6. J4Zonian Says:

    ‘Code Red’: Australia is so hot bats are falling from the trees
    Australia swelters under 120°F highs during the day and 96°F nighttime lows.
    Joe Romm Jan. 22, 2019
    https://thinkprogress.org/australia-heat-wave-so-hot-bats-falling-from-trees-9493180bfd35/

    This is not a unique event; it and other disasters are becoming more frequent for birds, bats and other life because of fossil fuels, climate change and other human acts.

    Fossil and fissile fuels kill more birds per KWh than any renewable source of energy, and almost infinitely more people, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, plants and other creatures, since renewable energy kills virtually none of those. Climate catastrophe will cause tens of thousands to millions of extinctions, depending on our actions from now on.

    So the more we replace other fuels with clean safe renewable energy, including wind, the better all life will do.

    The same goes for birds killed by chemical industrial agriculture and deforestation; both have to be reversed to avoid climate cataclysm and stop the erosion of diversity. The number of birds killed by cats, cars, and other non-GHG things is irrelevant, except the absence of those concerns from the arfs’ (anti-renewable fanatics) arguments reminds us of their apathy about birds and other wildlife–and humans for that matter. For them this is only about their antipathy to renewables.

    Of course we should design and site all our infrastructure with the welfare of living creatures in mind; wind turbines have already been hugely improved in both design and siting over the last few decades, and that continues, widening the gap between it and fuels even more. Of course what matters is the mix of clean safe renewable energy, and that’s even better for human and ecological health than wind alone.


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