May 24, 2012
AWWI White Paper on Eagles and Wind Energy
Advancing wind energy while protecting eagles: AWWI has released a white paper as part of its Eagle Initiative to further this goal.
“Eagles and Wind Energy: Identifying Research Priorities” synthesizes our knowledge of eagle population status and trends, surveys our understanding of anthropogenic causes of fatalities including wind energy, and considers research priorities. A copy of the white paper is available here
. Findings include:
- Population status and trends: Bald eagles are thriving, while the status of golden eagle populations is uncertain;
- Anthropogenic sources of fatalities: Review of data of known eagle fatalities recorded between 2006 and 2011 from all anthropogenic sources suggests that electrocution for golden eagles (50%), and poisoning for bald eagles (36%), are leading sources. Wind turbine collisions in the Altamont Pass account for 21.5% and wind turbines at other sites account for 0.5% of all golden eagle fatalities according to the same data survey;
- Research priorities: Research needs range from addressing population status and eagle mortality information gaps to expanding mitigation options and coordinating existing collaborative research. The white paper and the November 2011 AWWI Eagle Workshop at which an earlier working draft was discussed conclude that to complement the studies FWS and USGS are conducting on eagle populations and risk estimation, AWWI should emphasize research on golden eagles that is directly relevant to wind energy development, with an initial focus on expanding options for compensatory mitigation.
“Eagle experts, wildlife agency staff, conservation organizations, and the wind energy industry are collaborating to improve our understanding of the status of eagles, to better avoid and minimize impacts to eagles during wind project development and operation, and to create scientifically rigorous mitigation options to compensate when eagle take is unavoidable. Collectively these efforts will protect eagles and facilitate wind energy development,” said Taber Allison, AWWI Director of Research and Evaluation, and the author of the paper.
“As a commercially scalable, water-conserving, emissions-free technology, wind energy is a critical asset in the fight against climate change, which poses a looming threat of potentially enormous magnitude to all wildlife, including eagles,” added Allison. “The collaborative, science-based approach of AWWI and its conservation and industry partners makes it possible to invest in solutions that both advance wind energy and protect wildlife.”
Building on the findings of the white paper and workshop, AWWI’s Eagle Initiative will work with eagle experts, conservation organizations, agency staff, and industry stakeholders to develop alternative management scenarios that offer the highest potential for increasing eagle productivity or adult survival, and implementation success. The new mitigation options will support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in carrying out, and the wind industry in complying with the 2009 Eagle Rule, will facilitate the permitting of wind energy facilities while conserving eagles, and will have broad application for offsetting eagle take and enhancing eagle management.