A new study just published in the United States has estimated that around 573,000 birds were killed by wind turbines in 2012 (including 83,000 birds of prey), in increase of 30 per cent on a previous estimate by the US fish and Wildlife Service in 2009. Bats are even worse hit, says author K Shawn Smallwood, and probably top 888,000 killed per year.
Clearly this has
serious implications for the renewable energy industry, which bases much of its
investment and publicity on the safety and environmental sustainability of the
machines. Smallwood also believes his figures are underestimated, owing to the
incompleteness if reports of bird and bat deaths from different states, in
Added to this, wind farm legislation in the USA is
being loosened, with permits to allow the killing of Bald and Golden Eagles,
Whooping Crane, Piping Plover and California Condor by wind turbines all under
review or being granted in some states.
Despite being based in
incomplete data, Smallwood suggests that there should be greater transparency in
reporting the deaths of flying animals in the States as well as a cross-state
standard method of measuring and comparing figures. Even so, the increase in
deaths suggested by the more rigorous statistical methods are worrying indeed,
and should provide justifiable concern for both conservationists and the
renewable energy industry in Britain and Europe.