Birds, bats, and wind farms

Surprise, surprise!  Just like in California, flying critters in Texas get whacked by wind turbines.  The problem seems to be most worrisome along the Gulf.  The wind farm developers are studying the problem–and installing safeguards, but they’re getting nothing but grief from conservationists, who want the developers to make their data public.

Those who opposed the wind farms are not convinced the studies are credible or conclusive.

The work was paid for by the companies and not peer-reviewed. In their reports, biologists wrote about the challenges of collecting good data with rattlesnakes biting their search dogs and cows that would not leave. The researchers estimate scavengers removed half of the bird and bat carcasses before they could be found.

They also could not get federal permits to collect the species they did find, so many had to be marked as unknown.

Before the Kenedy wind turbines went in, Arnett had expected low bat mortality, as there were no known concentrations of bats in the area. Since so little is known about bat movements, he is not surprised the numbers turned out to be higher.

Before wind turbines were built, little was known about bat movements.

The conservationists seem to have a bad case of Precautionary Principle:

He believes mortality rates are an incomplete measurement of the effect of wind farms. The numbers do not reflect how turbines could be changing behavior of birds and bats by forcing them out of their habitat and putting them under greater stress.

Newstead is one of most vocal challengers to the construction of wind farms along the Texas Coast and was part of an unsuccessful lawsuit to stop them, funded in large part by the King Ranch, which borders the Kenedy Ranch.

Is it any wonder the developers are reluctant to share data with folks whose first response is to take them to court? Folks who keep raising the bar for what they consider acceptable?  Folks who don’t even chip in for the mortality studies?

It’s interesting that when there are big corporations like Iberdrola and Pattern Energy involved in a problem, the Audubon Society wants to go to court, but when birds are killed in the millions by house cats, their response is to set up a pathetic public awareness campaign (so wimpy that I’d never heard of it before searching online–the Coastal Bend chapter is mute on the subject).  Apparently millions of cat owners are too scary to confront directly.  Jerks.

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