Summary of Wind-Wildlife Interactions

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The silver haired bat is one of three migratory bat species in Alberta. Being something of a naturalist myself, some of my most memorable trips have involved seeing birds such as the endangered resplendent quetzal in Costa Rica or the beautiful rose-coloured grosbeak in Alberta. So we wanted to find the facts wind turbines and birds environment canada the claims you often hear about just how bad wind farms are for birds and wildlife in general. This took us down a rabbit hole of research and browser tabs that landed us in the workshop of John Bowman.

It can hear the echolocation clicks that bats make and it turns them into sounds that humans can hear. Robert Wind turbines and birds environment canada is a biology professor at the University of Calgary who has studied bats his entire professional career.

And it brings home that there are lots of them around even in urban areas. Robert Barclay is a professor from the University of Calgary who has studied bats his entire professional career. Barclay and his students were hired by wind energy companies to study the effects of wind energy on these small mammals after discovering bodies of bats under the turbines. By turning off the turbines when the winds were low during the bats migratory period in the late summer and early fall, mortality rates were reduced by 50 per cent.

These mitigation techniques are not ubiquitous across the wind industry but groups like the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative are working on this issue. Wind turbines can be hard on migrating bats; more study needs to be done to understand bat populations and behavior and how to reduce mortality.

Keeping turbines off of ridge tops, upwind of side slopes, and away from pronounced valleys, help reduce raptor fatalities in wind farms. Domestic house cats kill , birds a year. Your adorable little kitty is actually a bird-killing machine. And when you combine house cats with deaths from hitting power lines, tall buildings and vehicles you account for 95 per cent of all human-related bird deaths in Canada.

But birds matter, and wind industry representatives like Tyler Jans, the lead regulatory guy at BluEarth Renewables, employ a number of strategies to reduce bird impacts when developing wind projects. Keeping wind turbines off the migratory routes of birds and bats is another effective mitigation tactic. And on the operations side, there are periodic shutdowns or deliberate slowing during specific times of the year when birds are in the air.

Despite what turbines do to bats, Barclay wind turbines and birds environment canada calls himself a fan of wind and renewable energy.

And if scientists like Barclay can help us reduce the impacts on wildlife, wind power can help us fend off one of the greatest threat of all to birds: Wind energy is not wind turbines and birds environment canada climate change panacea but it can dramatically reduce carbon emissions — an important step in combating climate change.

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