Balance wildlife, energy needs

By From page A12 | March 02, 2014

Wind power is both a valuable source of renewable energy and a terrible threat to birds and bats. Wind turbines — located particularly in the Altamont Pass, Tehachapi Mountains and the Montezuma Hills — kill birds in flight and they take up valuable habitat.

Wind turbines kill roughly 108,000 birds and thousands of bats each year in California. A recent study published in Biological Conservation says that while 10 percent of the United States wind energy is produced in California, 46 percent of all yearly wildlife kills are caused by California turbines.

Although there are other causes of bird deaths — like collisions with telephone wires and buildings and attacks by house cats and feral cats — turbines are an important problem, especially for raptors, which glide with the wind and are often found in windy places where the turbines are located.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Elliot Chasin says one solution is to site wind farms in altered lands far from nesting habitats. Using shrouded turbines also helps birds avoid the blades. You can help by telling your elected officials that it is important to balance the needs of wildlife with the needs for renewable energy.

Braeden Ingram
Fifth-grader, Korematsu Elementary School

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