Ospreys

The raptor genus is under attack. The African species has been downgraded from threatened to endangered. The European griffon is critically endangered, the next level down. Only extinction remains. Mankind’s agricultural encroachments, captures for animist fetishists or medical investigators, and electrocution are the main threats.

Today, wind turbines present the final threat to the genus. Across the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, griffons, vultures, osprey, hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls are each threatened by these new Avatars of the air. Wind turbine farms are stretched across the very flyways in the sky that these birds use in migration and habitation.

The turbines seek what the birds seek: wind. The turbine farms are growing in size, in population, and in killing power. Today these tax-avoidance farms have a license to kill.

As the number of wind farms increase, the take increases. This is the government’s euphemism for a “license to kill.” No James Bond heroes here, folks. This is a slaughter most foul. Six million birds are killed each year in Spain, where the turbine numbers are greatest. 537,000 is the government’s estimate from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife for 2012. 83,000 were raptors, the hunters of the skies. 888,000 bats die every year.

Six million birds are killed each year by wind turbines in Spain. Click To Tweet

No actual figures are released. You have to take their word on this. Firms are not required to publish their takes. When they do, the figures are entirely unscientific and unreliable. The Administration refuses to release the data behind their figures, saying it would “expose trade secrets or implicate ongoing enforcement investigations.”

There are no investigations. There is no enforcement. Just the opposite. All wind farms have, on December 9, 2013, been given a five-year right to kill. This has recently been increased to 30 years. Why? To ensure that the operators and their stakeholders have assurance of risk-free returns.

The sheer volume of bird kill does not begin to depict the magnitude of ecological damage, since the most susceptible species tend to be those which are keystone species.

Proponents of large-scale wind turbine sites (including some federal agencies) tend to favor sparsely vegetated saddles or other funnel-like land forms, which are highly correlated with high density bird migration routes or raptor soaring locations.

Many of the raptors eviscerated by these man-made killing machines are protected under federal environmental laws. Many eagles are endangered species. Five species are approaching extinction here and globally: the golden eagle, sea eagles, bustards, whooping cranes (not a raptor, but endangered and under attack in Europe and the Midwest) and the Tasmanian eagle.

The golden eagle population in the western U.S. was in such decline in 2009 that the feds made it a policy to prevent even a single death. Too bad for the birds. Hundreds have died since then in the blades of wind farms. An unknown number of eagle families have been destroyed by the deaths of the bread winner. By some estimates, there are fewer than 500 golden eagles left in California, once the ancestral home to thousands of families.

For the past eight years, a billion dollars each year has been given of your tax dollars to encourage alternative energy development. Rentiers have risen on the updraft of this massive capital supply.

An avian slaughter has ensued, in the name of protecting the environment. The rationale? 50% or more of all birds will die from global warming by 2100. Better to allow a few to die now, to protect the entire populations of all birds, indeed of all species.

Must we kill these raptors to protect them from our selfish actions? Or, are our selfish actions killing these birds?

How will you answer these questions?

Hundreds of endangered golden eagles have died since 2009 in the blades of wind farms. Click To Tweet

Broken Wing: Birds, Blades and Broken Promises is available on 1/26/16.
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