Wildlife survival and habitat
How Wind Turbines Affect Wildlife
What is the effect on migrating fliers?
Wind turbines increase mortality by causing avoidance as well as collision deaths.
Wildlife biologist Dr. Scott Petrie advises that clusters of wind turbines would pose harmful migratory barriers to bats, birds and butterflies. They present obstacles to seasonal and daily movements to and from resting, feeding, breeding, spawning, wintering and moulting areas. Some migrants may give an entire IWT array a wide berth, thus increasing their energy expenditures and potentially reducing their fat stores and lifespan. In areas where wind turbines are in a continuous array, the cumulative effects pose major threats to all species.
Birds suffer Instant death or prolonged fatal injury from a run-in with a moving turbine blade, tower or transmission line. Tower lights may add to the toll by attracting and/or confusing exhausted migrants at night or foggy conditions.
What about resident wildlife?
Significant disturbance of the area surrounding turbines may cause local wildlife to abandon the turbine site entirely. Habitat loss or detrimental change results not only from IWTs but also from associated roads, electrical substations and transmission lines. Tracy Whitworth, who has a historic home in Clear Creek, near Delhi, Ontario, said in a CBC interview: “Now there’s no deer, no geese, no wild turkeys. Nothing.”
In the UK, of 12 species examined, 11 experienced declines in numbers up to 50% within one km of turbines (Government study, Pearce-Higgins et al., 2009). The density of bird populations is determined by food supply, so birds that are excluded from an area simply die off and the population total declines. Read more at http://www.windfarmaction.com/public-perceptions-10029.html.
What about marginal species?
The impact of removing even just dozens of individuals from an at-risk population of species can be significant. It can critically reduce numbers in some nesting areas, and if turbines selectively injure some subspecies, it would reduce biodiversity. At least 19 species are at risk in the South Shore of Prince Edward County.
Essential cumulative effects studies, as required by the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Statement of Values, are not being carried out for the White Pines project.
Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have published a detailed review of the impact of turbines on the habitat, birds, and endangered species at Ostrander Point. To read about how the South Shore Important Bird Area from Point Petre to Prince Edward Point will no longer be a natural habitat and refuge for migrating birds and bats after the arrival of wind factories, go to http://naturestuff.net/site/images/stories/Organizations/organizations_pecfn_ostrander.pdf.
Ted Cheskey of Nature Canada has also published several articles on the impact that industrial wind turbines will have on wildlife at Ostrander Point. Click and scroll: http://naturecanadablog.blogspot.ca/search/label/Ostrander%20Point.
What is the Wolfe Island Experience?
The wind turbines on Wolfe Island give an indication of potential effects in The County. Although assessing mortality is difficult because some dead birds are removed by blade throw and scavengers, company consultants estimate that 1,500 birds and 3,800 bats are killed annually by Wolfe Island turbines. These include the following dead birds actually retrieved: 218 Tree Swallows, 49 Purple Martine, 73 Bobolinks, 50 Wilson’s Snipes, and 10 Red-Tailed Hawks. To date, Wolfe Island has experienced the highest recorded rate for raptor kills outside of California. This number crossed the “notification threshold” for the project, so the Canadian Wildlife Service and MNR were notified four times about the high rates. No response was provided by MNR, and no changes have been made to the project.
Wind turbines also kill bats by creating turbulence that explodes their lungs. On Wolfe Island this is happening to three migratory species of bats – Hoary, Eastern Red, and Silver-haired. Since all bat populations are in decline, the loss of even just dozens of individuals is significant.
Ted Cheskey has studied the impact that turbines are already having on wildlife at Wolfe Island. His 2011 report affirms that TransAlta’s Wolfe Island Wind Energy plant is one of the most destructive for birds and bats in North America: http://naturecanadablog.blogspot.ca/2011/07/wolfe-island-wind-farm-still-one-of.html.