Every year, hundreds of thousands of birds are killed every year when they fly into gigantic wind turbine blades. It’s impossible to pinpoint how many of these are eagles, but wildlife groups say the birds accidentally fly into the blades when they are hunting for prey.
Currently, permits allow wind energy companies to build wind farms as long as the Fish and Wildlife Service approves them for using advanced conservation practices to protect birds and other wildlife. Now, the Obama administration may put in place a rule that extends the permit from five to 30 years.
Over the past few weeks, environmentally friendly energy groups have met with White House officials and asked them not to approve the rules, which the green energy industry has lobbied for hard. According to the environmental groups, the Obama administration should review the long-term effects of wind farms on the environment.
Proponents of the wind industry refute that the longer permit duration gives energy firms a free pass, nothing that the firms will have to meet additional measures to protect birds. These permits could be updated to account for new scientific findings or if eagle deaths rise.
The bald eagle was considered endangered for decades but was removed from the endangered species list in 2007 since it seemed to have rebounded. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act protects the eagles since they have naturally low reproduction rates, whether endangered or not.
The wind power industry also argues that only 2% of documented golden eagle deaths are caused by wind farms each year. Newer wind turbines are designed not to encourage birds to perch on them.