Anti-wind turbine group jumps to the defence of tundra swans and area rest stops they covet during migration

March 22, 2013
by John Miner, The London Free Press

After losing their battle to save a bald eagle nest from the chainsaw, anti-wind turbine activists are turning their fight to the tundra swan.

“If we continue to allow industry to displace and destroy our habitat, we are really looking at an environmental disaster in the long run. It is not just the tundra swans, it is the geese, it is the eagles,” said Muriel Allingham of the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group.

An information rally is planned for 11 a.m. Sunday, south of Grand Bend at the Thedford Bog, where the swans stop to rest on their spring migration from the Chesapeake Bay area to nest on the Arctic coastline.

The Grand Bend area, where thousands of the tundra swans can sometimes be viewed, also falls within two large wind farms planned by NextEra Energy, a subsidiary of U.S. energy giant NextEra, formerly known as Florida Light and Power.

At least one of the 80-metre-tall wind turbines is proposed to be sited within the bog area. Plans for the two wind farms — Jericho and Goshen — call for construction of 169 turbines.

Allingham said the turbines will disrupt the swans’ migration route. “This Florida-based company is coming into our province and running roughshod over our wildlife,” Allingham said.

The displacement of the tundra swans will also hit the local tourism industry, she said.

“I was there last weekend and every 15 minutes there was 20 cars. Tourism dollars will be affected because people are not going to come,” Allingham said.

The tundra swans are noted in NextEra’s application for approval of the wind farms.

In the documents, the company says it will carry out two surveys in March 2013 to see if the number of tundra swans meets the target to have the sites designated as significant wildlife habitat.

In a statement released Friday, Josie Hernandez at NextEra said the company is committed to ongoing consultations with landowners and organizations to identify solutions to local issues, including the stopover and staging areas for the swans.

“Those conversations are still ongoing, and, together, we will work to make sure this information is used to identify appropriate turbine locations, including setback distances from natural features. We will meet, if not exceed, these setback distances,” Hernandez wrote.

Causing an uproar in January, NextEra removed a bald eagle nest near Fisherville to clear the way for construction of the Summerhaven Wind Energy Centre, an industrial wind farm with 56 turbines. NextEra had the blessing of the Natural Resources Ministry to cut down the nest.

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Tundra Swans
Formerly called ‘whistling swans’ because of the sound made by their wings in flight
Adults weigh about 7 kilograms
Eastern tundra swans winter on the Atlantic Coast in Chesapeake Bay and spend the summer in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska
Stopover areas in their migration include the Thedford Bog near Grand Bend, Aylmer Wildlife Management Area and Long Point area

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