March 29, 2011

Windfarms threaten many bird species with extinction

Save the Eagles International (STEI) wishes to warn the international community about the threat that windfarms and their power lines represent for biodiversity. Unlike cars, buildings, and domestic cats, wind turbine blades and high tension lines often kill protected or endangered birds like eagles, cranes, storks, etc. Cumulatively and over the long term, 3.5 million wind turbines to be installed worldwide will cause the extinction of many bird species, some of them emblematic.

STEI’s president, Mark Duchamp, objects to the wind industry comparing bird mortality at windfarms to that, larger, from other causes related to human activities. These other threats have already reduced bird populations worldwide, he said, and are continuing to do so. “But mortality caused by windfarms and their power lines is new and additional”, he adds, “and like the proverbial last drop that spills the glass, its effects will be upsetting. To wit the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle, which has been condemned to extinction by the construction of 7 windfarms in its habitat” (1).
Another important difference, says Duchamp, is that the other threats can’t be easily stopped, whereas poorly-sited windfarm projects can. The Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/Birdlife) recommended this month that windfarms no longer be built in natural areas, but in urban and industrial areas instead (2).

One week later, SEO/Birdlife revealed that bird mortality caused by windfarms and power lines was much higher than previously thought. For the Spanish region of Castilla La Mancha, they estimate it to be “1.3 million birds a year, many of them in danger of extinction like the Imperial Eagle, the Bonelli´s Eagle or the Lesser Kestrel”. And they added: “(this is) a considerable number which proves that windfarms have a great capacity for killing birds”. (3)

“This is what I have been claiming for 9 years”, says Duchamp, “but only this month did SEO recognize the danger. During all that time I have been treated as a heretic, and was banned from ornithology forums where my whistle-blowing was causing discomfort in the profession.” The French naturalist, who lives in Spain, has been vindicated at last. He praises the American Bird Conservancy, Birdlife Bulgaria, and SEO for their firm stand against improperly sited windfarms, but laments that it will take more years before the most prominent bird societies do likewise. Conflicts of interests are at the root of the problem, he says.

STEI warns that, if we are to save our emblematic bird species from this new threat, it is urgent to impose a moratorium on windfarm construction and to call for a really independent commission to investigate the whole windfarm matter, starting with the effectiveness of this intermittent, unreliable, and ruinous form of energy.

Duchamp founded Save the Eagles International in 2009, to raise awareness and to publish inconvenient bird mortality statistics that most bird societies fail to make available to the public. He has launched today the STEI website where these numbers and their sources can be found:

(1) – Wind farms: suspicious error by consultant condemns Tasmanian eagle to extinction.

(2) – SEO Birdlife: “ Castilla-La Mancha “debe abandonar el viejo modelo de grandes centrales de generación eléctrica situadas en plena naturaleza y alejadas de los puntos de consumo y fomentar la generación eléctrica en suelo urbano e industrial”.

Translation: “Castilla-La Mancha “must abandon the old model of large power plants located in natural habitats, far away from where the energy is consumed, and promote electrical generation in urban and industrial zones.”

(3) – SEO Birdlife: “1,3 millones de aves al año… un número considerable con el que se demuestra que los parques eólicos tienen «una gran capacidad para matar aves».”

Translation: “1.3 millon birds a year… a considerable number which proves that windfarms have a great capacity for killing birds ”


This media release was published worldwide, for instance in the Canada Free Press: