Windfarm Mortality: Environmental Disinformation, Eco-damage

MasterSeptember 26, 2013By Mark DuChamp

“Put simply, wind farms are causing considerable damage to nature’s balance, for no benefit whatsoever to society. Indeed, no country in the world has reduced its carbon footprint thanks to them…. It is high time to call a moratorium on wind farms, and examine the situation after ditching our blinkers.”

Wind turbines kill birds and bats, we all know that, but the billion-dollar question is: how many? I say “billion” because subsidies to the wind industry run into billions of dollars per year in the United States alone, and chances are the public would not support such expenditures if they found out that these machines were driving iconic, useful or beautiful species into extinction. It is therefore important to find out the extent of the mortality caused by their rotor blades and high tension power lines.

In a paper presented in 2009 at the Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Biologist Dr. Albert M. Manville wrote: “While the wind industry currently estimates that turbines kill 58 000 birds per year in the U.S. … the Service estimates annual mortality at 440 000 birds.” (1) This created quite a stir, and the wind industry tried hard to fight this estimate ever since.

Three years later, consultant biologist Dr. Shawn Smallwood came up with his own estimate in the March 2013 issue of the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin: “I estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012.” (2)

This prompted Birdwatching Magazine to post on their website: “Smallwood’s number of bird deaths represents a 30 percent jump over the 440,000 fatalities estimated by a 2009 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report” (3). Their counterpart in the UK, Birdwatch, wrote a similar article under the headline: “Wind farm bird deaths more than thought”. (4)

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