Wind industry’s eagle impact low

The Sept. 18 Sentinel editorial left out critical context and several facts about wind power and eagles.

No one takes wildlife impacts more seriously than the wind industry, and while unfortunately some eagles occasionally collide with turbines at some wind farms, this is not a common occurrence. Fatalities of golden eagles at modern wind facilities represent only 2 percent of all documented sources of human caused eagle fatalities, while, in the history of the industry, only a few bald eagles have died in collisions and we are striving to reduce these even further.

This figure is far lower than eagle fatalities due to other leading causes, including lead poisoning, poisoning in general, electrocutions, collisions with vehicles, drowning in stock tanks, and illegal shootings. Further, the only reason we know as much as we do about our impacts is because unlike these other sources, the wind industry is conducting pre- and post-construction surveys and self-reporting the losses.

A recent study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management shows stable golden eagle populations throughout North America. The study’s lead author, Brian Millsap, examined population data throughout the range of golden eagles over the past four decades (i.e., 1968-2010) and found that the population has, in general, remained stable, and in fact slightly increased overall.

Even so, the wind industry is and will remain actively engaged with both the regulatory and conservation communities to find ways of further avoiding, reducing and fully mitigating for any impacts to both eagle species. Plus, wind power helps fight what the regulatory and conservation communities cite as the number one threat to wildlife – climate change – by displacing almost 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

In order to have a functioning society, we need to have electricity to power our homes, schools and businesses. Wind power provides a clean, reliable source of electricity that is one of the lowest impact forms of energy generation available today.

John Anderson is Director of Siting Policy, American Wind Energy Association, Washington, D.C.