Wind turbines pose a threat to Bald Eagles

Posted 28 June 2016 at 12:00 am


Bald Eagles are exciting to see and appropriate to celebrate as July 4th nears. Along the lake in Yates there have been juveniles as well as adult birds seen. There was just one pair of nesting Bald Eagles in New York State in the 1970’s, now it has become more common to see a Bald Eagle soaring over our beautiful landscape. The species survived and is thriving.

Doug Domedion has written several times this year in the Lake Country Pennysaver about the growing presence of the eagles and describes nests at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and the discovery of new nests.

Industrial wind turbines have had permission to kill eagles from the federal government, called a “take.” The administration is revising a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that allows industrial wind companies to operate their turbines and sanctions up to 4,200 bald eagle deaths and injuries per year without a penalty.

They also propose a change for the killing of golden eagles, based on efforts the companies take in that case to minimize the losses. The current law states that industries can apply for a “take” permit that would essentially give permission for them to incidentally kill a certain number of eagles in the operation of their business. The permit can be given for a time period of up to 5 years.

One of the problems with the current law is that it is voluntary and so wind corporations are not applying for it. The government agencies have limited resources to go after industries that kill eagles. In this situation it is unlikely that wind industry employees would ever volunteer numbers about how many eagles they are killing each year in the operation of the wind turbines.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service revised rule will offer a special option for wind corporations to incidentally kill more eagles and to do so for up to 30 years instead of 5.

The director of Fish and Wildlife is quoted as saying the proposal will “provide a path forward” and is “a great tool to work with to further the conservation of two iconic species.” There are now three proposed industrial wind turbine sites in the area: along the lakeshore in Yates and Somerset, in Alabama and in Barre.

As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s birthday, let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know your thoughts regarding these proposed revisions to the bald and golden eagle regulations, which it administers under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act).

There is an open comment period through July 5th. Here is the link: Eagle Permits: Revisions to Regulations for Eagle Incidental Take and Take of Eagle Nests. On the right hand side of the page you will see a “Comment Now” button or scroll down and use the listed address to mail your comments. Help protect our nation’s symbol of freedom, the Bald Eagle.

Georgette Stockman
Town of Yates