Open Letter Protesting Department of Interior Rule Allowing Wind Farms to Kill Eagles

Below is a letter I sent under my name to President Obama at the White House, the Department of Interior (DOI), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, both of my U.S. Senators and to my Congressman.  The DOI has issued a ruling that allows wind farms to kill eagles without penalty for the next 30 years.

Background On Eagle Mortality Caused by Wind Farms

golden eagle

Golden Eagle

Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles and many other raptor species are killed at wind farms when they are struck by moving blades. Many songbirds are also killed when they strike the towers at night while attempting to migrate.

For years, the giant wind turbines that produce “pollution free” electricity have been killing eagles and thousands of other raptors, small birds and bats. According to researchers (Download Article PDF), at least 79 eagles were killed at wind farms in the U.S. between 2008-2012, with a total of 85 eagles (6 Bald Eagles and 79 Golden Eagles) killed between 1997-2012, showing eagle mortalities are increasing as more wind farms are built.

adult bald eagle

Adult Bald Eagle

No doubt, more eagles are killed by electrocution, poisoning, shootings and collisions with airplanes and ground vehicles, but our goal for eagle deaths due to “green energy” should be zero.

How are Eagles Killed by Wind Turbines?

For anyone that has watched the large turbine blades slowly turn, it might be hard to imagine that an eagle couldn’t get out of the way, but the turbines are so large, the speed of the blades are faster than they appear and actually reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tip. A large 1.8-2.0 MW tower has blades that rotate through an area covering 110 meters in diameter. At 170 mph, that would take 4½ seconds per revolution.

Eagles have evolved a hunting strategy where they fly above the ground and look for prey below. For millions of years, there was nothing for them to collide with except for trees and cliff faces. Evidently, trees and rock walls are easy for them to see and avoid, turbine blades are not.

My Open Letter

To Whom It May Concern:

As a Raptor Biologist and a former State Wildlife Biologist, I protest against the Department Of Interior’s ruling to allow “take” of Bald and Golden Eagles by Wind Farms for the next 30 years.

This ruling artificially cheapens the cost of wind power by cheapening the value of eagles (and other birds). It offers no incentive to find ways to reduce eagle mortality from collisions with wind turbines.

If wind power is to succeed, it must be because it can provide power at competitive rates to traditional methods, not because it is favored by so-called environmentalists claiming to know what is best for all of us and for the environment.

I doubt much can be done because anytime the economy collides with wildlife, wildlife always lose, but that is my two cents and anything you can do to reverse this decision will be appreciated.

If an eagle has no value, then what does?

Sincerely,

BackcountryChronicles.com

CC

I hope this encourages you to write your own letters to the powers that be that can be found with the links above.

On Jan.15, 2014 I received the following email from the White House.

letter from whitehouse

I am glad the President shares my concern for “animal welfare”and appreciates my thoughts, but so far, nothing has changed. It’s still O.K. for energy companies to allow windmills to kill eagles. Must be very important “green” energy.

Links for More Background and Perspective of DOI Rule to Allow Killing of Eagles

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Comments

  1. I recieved this response in an email from the White House about a month after my email:

    Thank you for writing. I share your concern for animal welfare, and I know how important it is to many Americans that we get this issue right.
    My Administration will keep working to protect animal welfare in areas where there is a role for the Federal Government. Please know I value your perspective, and I appreciate your thoughts on how we can meet our responsibilities.
    Thank you, again, for taking the time to write. I encourage you to visit http://www.WhiteHouse.gov to learn more about my Administration or to contact me in the future.
    Sincerely,
    Barack Obama

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