Hiding Avian Mortality: Where ‘Green’ is Red (Part II: Wolfe Island)

MasterSeptember 13, 2013
by Jim Weigand

The Wolfe Island Studies
In early 2011, the company that owns and operates the 86 wind turbines on Wolfe Island released its first mortality study. After making “adjustments,” the study estimated that the turbines killed 602 birds and 1,270 bats between July 1 and December 31, 2009; an additional 549 birds and 450 bats were killed between January 1 and June 30, 2010. The total fatality toll for the twelve months was estimated to be 1,141 birds, 24 raptors, and 1,720 bats.

Original article: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/09/hiding-avian-mortality-ii-wolfe-island/#more-27568

The huge number of fatalities generated extensive negative publicity around the world, and the Wolfe Island wind installation quickly became known as Canada’s deadliest energy facility. In response to this criticism’ and under the direction of the country’s Ministry of Natural Resources, new “management” procedures were adopted that would supposedly reduce these turbine impacts. Follow-up studies “indicated” that the new procedures for were having a positive impact and Wolfe Island wind turbine mortality was being reduced.

In reality, the “management” procedures had little or nothing to do with actually reducing bird and bat deaths – and everything to do with reducing official death tolls and bad publicity. The supposed reduction in mortality is easily and more accurately explained by the fact that Wolfe Island “researchers” are now spending less time in the field and looking at smaller search areas.

There are so many problems with the Wolfe Island studies that they cannot possibly be addressed in one article. However, it is clear from the study data and information that most of the mortality from the 86 turbines is simply not being reported.

My research also revealed that the guidelines and bogus monitoring protocols for Wolfe Island were apparently put together under the direction of the Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation (“CREC”), Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service (“EC”), Natural Resources Canada (“NRCan”), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (“MNR”) and Ducks Unlimited Canada (“DUC”). A similar pattern is apparent with government agencies and conservation groups in the United States.

One can hardly avoid the conclusions that these organizations are deliberately obfuscating and hiding the bird and bat butchery to advance a “green” agenda. They have decided that oil, gas and coal are environmentally damaging – whereas wind power is “eco-friendly” – and the facts will not be allowed to get in the way. Far too much money, power and prestige are at stake. Aggressive environmentalists have taken over the government agencies and conservation groups, and forged partnerships with the wind industry and its political supporters. They are determined that the Canadian and American publics will not learn the truth about avian fatalities.

The anti-hydrocarbon agenda, in short, trumps wildlife protection. It also breeches the standards and ethics this country is based upon.

Among the bogus “management” strategies included in the new Wolfe Island “monitoring” plan were that search areas would be limited to 50 meters (shorter than each turbine’s blade length) and 85% of fatalities would be assumed to be located within 50 meters. These strategies are clearly fraudulent, because (as explained above) the search areas for these 2.3-MW turbines should have been at least 200 meters. And yet, all these groups signed off on the new schemes.

The so called Wolfe Island “monitoring plan” also allowed workers searching for fatalities to avoid searching the entire 50-meter areas, as long as they “factored in” the percentage of the area that had actually been searched. The plan also allowed monitoring teams to block out certain areas from within the 50-meter search radius and exclude any carcasses that were found outside the remaining search areas.

These monitoring protocols for Wolfe Island effectively ensure that mortality searches around turbines are now conducted primarily on the gravel areas around the turbines and away from the primary direction of carcass throw. (See Figure 3.) In other words, the protocols are specifically designed to focus on the areas that are least likely to have bird and bat carcasses and body parts. These areas are also the easiest areas for wind personnel to pre scan for bodies ahead of searches.

An examination of the studies makes it abundantly clear the mortality analyses are replete with patterns of carcass dispersal that are not only non-random, but impossible. I ran some calculations for these carcass dispersal patterns, to determine the likelihood of these events taking place. I got probability numbers in the quintillions! (See Figure 4).

It is clear that researchers were only looking in only small sections of deliberately too-small 50-meters radius search areas. Equally disturbing, search teams, wind industry personnel, lease holders, and farmers tilling the soil around turbines would not mention the obvious presence of carcasses cast about by the turbines.

Eyewitness: Massive Geese Slaughter
Here is an on-the-spot report that was posted in December 2011:

On Friday morning, September 30 at 9:30 am, it was surprising to personally witness the destruction of a flight of Canadian Geese by one of the Wolfe Island turbines. Here is what happened; from a clear view second floor window at our home on Tibbetts Point Rd. I watched geese lift off and form up along the shore of Wolfe Island. At about a hundred feet of altitude they wheeled into the wind, headed in a west/southwesterly direction. As their climb into a headwind slowly took them over Wolfe the wind speed gauge at our house continued to read a strong and steady 22-25 mph. It was overcast. The river was rolling.

Crossing Wolfe, they flew into the plane of spinning turbine blades. This one turbine is directly across from our home and close to us at about a mile and a half. Through 8X binoculars the carnage was mesmerizing.

Imagine a scene of blade impacts repeatedly knocking dark puffs of feathers against a grey sky. With such a strong wind, limp bodies seemed to be blown backwards out of the turbine. Amazingly the rear of the flight followed into the blades. They seemed oblivious to the destruction of their leaders. With strong headwinds slowing their passage the period of danger and destruction was prolonged. After about two-thirds entered this gauntlet, the flight finally broke off, lost its V shape and scattered.

This eye witness account does not match any of the Wolfe Island mortality studies. Swans, geese, and ducks by the thousands use the habitat around the Wolfe island turbines. These species are routinely observed foraging in the fields around the turbines – and yet the death of geese and other waterfowl are mysteriously missing from official studies.

This underscores yet another aspect of these studies: the species fatality lists are bogus.

The only waterfowl found reported killed by the turbines were a few mallards over a three-year period. The reports show no geese or swans – and no owls, eagles, falcons or many other highly sensitive species that use the Wolfe Island habitat. Yet, wind turbines are known to kill every flying species that share the same habitat. The official counts are simply impossible, especially when mortality estimates explode into the thousands after being properly adjusted.

Rigged Data with Proper Adjustments
When properly adjusted, the numbers coming out of Wolfe Island are staggering. As I have pointed out, the studies used undersized search areas. When corrected for 200 meters (0.0625 factor – meaning the original study ignored 94% of the area that should have been searched) and searcher efficiency of 0.5 (50% of carcasses actually found), the July-December 2009 estimated mortality of 602 birds can be corrected to 12,505 birds.

When the searcher efficiency for bats is adjusted with a far more accurate 0.4 (40% of carcasses found) rating instead of a 0.630 rating, the estimated bat mortality skyrockets from 1,270 to 31,973 bats in just six months.

Along with the undersized search areas, in the all studies researchers improperly gave themselves elevated adjustment factors that allowed them to calculate fewer mortalities. The searcher efficiency rating of 1.0 for raptors is patently ridiculous, because it means they were claiming that they were not missing any raptor carcasses. A 0.7 rating is far more likely, because the terrain around the turbines is far from being just gravel and many of the raptor species are small.

With a 0.7 (70%) searcher efficiency rating, and considering that only 85% of dead raptors will be found in even a 200-meter search area, mortality should be considered to be, not merely 23 (as claimed) – but around 541 raptors for the twelve-month period, July 2009 through June 2010, for the 86-turbine Wolfe Island installation.

The industry researchers “adjusted” all their Wolf Island studies, using searcher efficiency ratings that are not possible with the mixed habitat surrounding the turbines.

For example, Figure 4 shows the native vegetation surrounding the turbines. In this habitat the searcher efficiency rating for small birds and bats could not be any better than 0.2 (that is, they miss 80%), unless several people spent hours at each turbine with each visit – which never happens. In fact, searchers only spent a few minutes around each turbine with each visit, making their self-proclaimed searcher efficiency ratings completely false and unreliable. Nevertheless, in the studies, they used a factor of 0.8, as if they only missed 20% of the carcasses.

Wolfe Island studies for the last available year of research reported lower mortality – allowing the industry, government agencies and environmental groups to report “success” in “reducing” bird and bat mortalities. However, this “reduction” is easily explained by fewer searches conducted, less time spent on each mortality search, and absurdly small search areas employed.

Based on carcass locations reported, searchers only examined a total area equivalent to about 1/6 of a 50-meter search radius around each turbine (1/6 of 7,854 square meters or 0.33 acres) – when they should have searched a 200-meter-radius area (31 acres), an area 94 times larger.

Again, mortalities officially recorded in the industry’s two 2011 six-month reports totaled 442 birds, 24 raptors, and 533 bats. In reality, taking into account the various methods used to minimize carcass counts, the Wolfe Island turbines are actually slaughtering 644 raptors, 21,512 other birds, and 29,831 bats!

Tens of Thousands of Fatalities Systematically Covered up at Wolfe Island
The fraudulent mortality information coming out of Wolfe Island is not an aberration. It is deliberate. It is the norm for the wind industry.

It does not matter whether the wind farm is located in Canada or the United States. The reported data are fraudulent. Every single mortality study has been deliberately and systematically contaminated with serious research and methodology flaws – which are then “blessed” and accepted as accurate, to advance pro-wind, anti-hydrocarbon agendas and policies.

In my expert opinion, the 86 Wolf Island turbines are killing over 50,000 birds and bats a year, including many vitally important species. This is more than 250 fatalities per MW, and more than 500 per turbine.

Properly designed and executed studies would show similar numbers – with far more species showing up on the mortality lists, beyond the few listed in the official reports.

This wind industry problem of hiding the slaughter has gone on for years. Worse, it is being aided, abetted and shielded by the very government agencies that have been established and empowered to protect our wildlife – and by mainstream conservation groups that have abandoned their charters and embraced wind industry projects, and wind industry payments.

Ironically, groups like the Audubon Society and Sierra Club not only collect money from members who donate to save our wildlife – they also collect money from an industry whose projects are slaughtering our wildlife. In the meantime, millions upon millions of protected birds and bats, among hundreds of species, are being killed every year by wind turbines.

The participants in this universal fraud can never be expected to come clean, and accountability under the current corrupt system will be very elusive. But thanks to the internet, the information in this article will not be censored by mainstream media. It will resonate across the world.

It is time for responsible people who care about our environment and wildlife to step forward – and demand investigations; prosecutions for fraud, dereliction of duty, and receipt of taxpayer subsidies and other payments made in reliance on false and misleading reports; a suspension of all payments to wind turbine companies, government officials and environmental groups involved in the deception; termination of permits for wind turbines in or near bird and bat habitats; and enforcement of endangered species and migratory bird laws fully and equally against all industries, including industrial wind power.

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