Ecological Effects

Some have voiced concerns that wind turbines are ecologically detrimental. Specifically, bird and bat deaths have soared as wind turbine usage has increased.

Bird and Bat Mortality

Approximately 10,000 to 40,000 bird deaths per year are attributable to wind turbines. While this number seems steep, it pales in comparison to the bird deaths associated with power lines, windows, pesticides, and lighted communication towers. These numbers range from forty million up to one billion deaths (Layton).

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Birds flying around the top of a wind turbine.

While turbine-related bird deaths have been documented for years, the discovery of a link between bat mortalities and wind turbines was fairly recent. According to a report in Current Biology, ninety percent of bats found dead near wind turbines that were examined by researchers showed signs of internal hemorrhaging consistent with trauma from a sudden drop in air pressure. Bats can live up to thirty years, and it is a tragedy to see their lives cut short due to turbines. In the long run, this could lead to their endangerment or even extinction as a species due to slow reproductive rates (Science Daily).

Taking Preventative Measures

Currently, the government is working with energy and wildlife groups to lessen the deaths of birds. Still, the fact remains that some birds will inevitably die despite their efforts. Birds collide with many structures, wind turbines included, during flight. Possibilities being explored are using radar to shut down turbines as migratory birds approach, building higher and more spaced apart towers, and placing towers away from areas where raptors hunt for small prey (Welch).

The death of innocent animals is undoubtedly tragic and should be avoided if possible. What do you think of the increased bird and bat mortality rates due to wind turbines? Is it a necessary evil or should we halt turbine expansion?

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