Do Wind Turbines Kill Butterflies?

The consequences of wind turbines on monarch migration have received little attention. However, depending on the wind patterns, migrating monarchs have been observed flying as high as 12,000 meters, indicating that they are capable of evading windmills.

Wind turbines have an impact on which animals.

Wind power poses a particular threat to raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons, owls, and vultures), as well as other large birds like ducks, geese, swans, and cranes, many of which are already endangered. Collisions not only endanger individual birds, but they also exacerbate existing dangers to their populations. Multiple facilities may have a cumulative effect that threatens the viability of breeding for various species that are already in decline.

Is it true that windmills kill insects?

As a result, a single turbine in the temperate zone might kill approximately 40 million insects per year. In addition, Scheimpflug Lidar measurements taken at operational wind turbines reveal a significant level of insect activity in the turbines’ risk zone.

How many animals perish as a result of wind turbines?

A hodgepodge of federal, state, and municipal restrictions may control how companies must monitor wildlife mortality on wind farms, although reporting requirements vary greatly. As a result, accurate statistics on deaths is difficult to come by. According to estimates, turbines kill 600,000 to 949,000 bats and 140,000 to 679,000 birds per year in North America. Dogs are by far the most efficient and successful technique to locate them.

Misfits from the pet world make the greatest dogs for this job. They must be completely fascinated with playto the point of exhaustion for most humans. “All of the dogs in our program are either rescues… or owner surrenders, where they just say they’ve run out of alternatives and even a shelter won’t take them,” says Heath Smith, director of Rogue Detection Teams, a conservation detection dog organization. The dogs are hyperactive and have an excessive amount of energy “insatiable desire to play fetch,” which isn’t ideal for a family pet but is ideal for encouraging a dog to hunt for birds or bats in order to receive their favorite toy as a reward. (Barley, according to Fratt, was “When he was younger, he was called “a pain in the buttocks.” Work allows him to release all of his pent-up energy.) Some dogs like a ball, while others prefer a rope or squishy toy; one of Smith’s dogs has taken to scooting around an empty food dish.

Even Nevertheless, searching beneath wind turbines may be strenuous physical labor. Sarah Jackson, who works with Rogue Detection Teams on a wind farm in Palm Springs, California, says a normal day entails 10 miles of walking. It’s grown so hot that she’s now searching in the middle of the night. Lady, Ptero, and Indy, Jackson’s three working dogs, scan two wind turbines each night, walking back and forth over an area the size of several football fields. (Every hour, the dogs get to turn off.) She isn’t one of them.) Others informed me about their experiences working in the rain and dirt. Despite this, Jackson sounded amazingly positive when I spoke with her at 6 a.m. after a long night of searching. Her hours are unusual, and the work is demanding, but she gets to work with dogs who are ecstatic to be there. “Imagine you’re in your car with three coworkers, and everyone is throwing a party,” she explained. That’s how I feel every day as I drive to work.

Dogs make searching more enjoyable for humans as well. Wynter Skye Standish, who is presently working on another wind farm in California, worked as a human searcher monitoring wildlife on wind farms before starting to work with dogs. That task is tedious, and it’s easy to lose track of time. She’s now always aware of her dog’s movementsthe wag of her tail, the angle of her snout. The canines’ extraordinary sense of smell, their strong awareness of human social cues, and our own keen knowledge of theirs are all combined in this collaboration. Standish does not consider herself a handler with an obedient dog; they work as a team as equals.

People who work with dogs on wind farms are usually animal lovers, so finding a dead bird or bat is a bittersweet experience. The dogs are ecstatic, awaiting a reward for their hard work. Humans may feel relieved for the birds and bats on days when there are no dead animals, but the dogs can become very frustrated, according to Amanda Janicki, who has worked on Iowa wind farms with her dog, Caffrey. Janicki is awestruck by his ability to find even the tiniest, most buried bat bones. But she laments what they imply: another bat has been murdered by the turbines.

What is it that is causing the butterflies to die?

When DuBrule-Clemente isn’t at Natureworks, she’s out performing monarch butterfly seminars. Last August, she and St. John gave a hands-on presentation for the New Haven Museum at the Pardee-Morris House. People clearly adore these butterflies, as at least 75 people flocked to the lawn. When a monarch butterfly fluttered by, the audience erupted in applause; the event concluded with our butterfly duet releasing monarchs, sometimes with the help of excited children.

DuBrule-Clemente introduced St. John that July day “The crazy butterfly lady,” she says. I just inquired of St. John about her given name. “We raised a handful of Eastern black swallowtail butterflies about ten years ago, when I had three little children. I snapped a photo and uploaded it to Natureworks. “We had so many clients asking, ‘What is it?'” that DuBrule-Clemente began telling them where it came from “The crazy butterfly lady,” she says.

The crew at Natureworks grows monarch butterflies by taking in their eggs from the leaves and putting them in small cages as they develop from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. They raised 784 of them last year.

Some of the monarchs are also marked for Monarch Watch by the crew. The objective is to see if they make it all the way to Mexico. According to St. John, “We know four people who started here and made it to the Mexico sanctuary because they were discovered there. That’s thrilling, almost as if you’ve won the lotto. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

What impact does climate change have on monarchs? Severe storms, particularly those in Mexico, might wipe out huge migrating groups or affect their triggers for when it’s time to fly north, according to DuBrule-Clemente. She does, however, add: “Man has the greatest harmful impact on monarchs. It’s a case of agricultural poisoning.”

According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the Eastern population of the migratory monarch butterfly has decreased by more than 80% since 1996, when it was over 700 million. The monarch butterflies are being wiped out by deforestation in their Mexican winter habitat, in addition to the usage of pesticides by Americans. That countryside is being ruined by loggers.

However, according to DuBrule-Clemente, over the last few years, “Monarch butterflies are making a comeback. This is due to the large amount of milkweed that has been planted. There were no monarchs in the area five years ago. Milkweed seeding is proving to be really beneficial. This is a representation of something you can do to help.”

And this is welcome news at a time when the coronavirus and climate change are causing so much concern. “I believe monarchs give people hope,” says St. John. “They remind me of gardens, which are quite therapeutic. Monarch butterflies are reassuring. I believe their presence will be beneficial.”

Is it true that wind turbines are harmful to wildlife?

Wind energy, like all energy sources, has the potential to harm the environment by reducing, fragmenting, or degrading habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants. Additionally, rotating turbine blades might endanger flying fauna such as birds and bats. Because of the potential for wind power to have a negative impact on wildlife, and because these difficulties could delay or prevent wind development in high-quality wind resource areas, impact reduction, siting, and permitting issues are among the wind industry’s top goals.

WETO supports in projects that strive to describe and understand the impact of wind on wildlife on land and offshore to address these concerns and encourage environmentally sustainable growth of wind power in the United States. Furthermore, through centralized information hubs like Tethys, WETO engages in operations to collect and disseminate scientifically rigorous peer-reviewed studies on environmental consequences. The office also invests in scientific research that allows for the development of cost-effective technology to reduce wildlife impacts at both onshore and offshore wind farms.

WETO strives to foster interagency collaboration on wind energy impacts and siting research in order to ensure that taxpayer monies are used wisely to solve environmental challenges associated with wind deployment in the United States.

  • For more than 24 years, the office has supported peer-reviewed research, in part through collaborative relationships with the wind industry and environmental groups including the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) and the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative.
  • The NWCC was established in 1994 by the DOE’s wind office in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to investigate a wide range of issues related to wind energy development, such as transmission, power markets, and wildlife impacts. The NWCC’s focus has evolved over the last decade to addressing and disseminating high-quality information about environmental impacts and remedies.
  • In May 2009, the Department of Energy’s wind office announced approximately $2 million in environmental research awards aimed at decreasing the hazards of wind power development to vital species and habitats. Researchers from Kansas State University and the NWCC’s Grassland Community Collaborative published a paper in 2013 that revealed wind development in Kansas had no significant impact on the population and reproduction of larger prairie chickens.
  • The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative has been involved in numerous research projects funded by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory since its inception in 2003, including studies evaluating the impact of changing the cut-in-speed of wind turbines (the minimum wind speed at which wind turbines begin producing power) and the use of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents to reduce bat impacts at wind turbines.
  • Through a competitive funding opportunity, WETO is also financing research and development projects that increase the technical preparedness of bat impact mitigation and minimization solutions. Bat Conservation International, Frontier Wind, General Electric, Texas Christian University, and the University of Massachusetts are among the companies, universities, and organizations receiving funding from the Energy Department to field test and evaluate near-commercial bat impact mitigation technologies, which will provide regulators and wind facility owners-operators with viable and cost-effective tools to reduce bat impacts.
  • Through a competitive funding opportunity, WETO is also financing research and development projects that increase the technical preparedness of bat impact mitigation and minimization solutions. Bat Conservation International, Frontier Wind, General Electric, Texas Christian University, and the University of Massachusetts are among the companies, universities, and organizations receiving funding from the Energy Department to field test and evaluate near-commercial bat impact mitigation technologies, which will provide regulators and wind facility owners-operators with viable and cost-effective tools to reduce bat impacts. The Status and Findings of Developing Technologies for Bat Detection and Deterrence at Wind Facilities webinars hosted by the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative provide project updates and testing findings as of March 2018.
  • WETO chose six teams in 2016 to work on improving solutions that will safeguard eagles that share airspace with wind turbines. For breakthrough, vital eagle-impact minimization technology research and development projects, more nearly $3 million was allocated across the six teams. The research financed by this grant will equip wind farm owners and operators with practical and cost-effective strategies for reducing potential eagle impacts. This important study expands on the Energy Department’s efforts to facilitate wind energy deployment while also ensuring animal coexistence by addressing siting and environmental concerns. If the study is successful, it will safeguard wildlife while also giving new tools for the wind industry to reduce regulatory and financial concerns.
  • WETO is a supporter of research on biological interactions with offshore wind turbines. With this funding, researchers are gathering crucial data on marine life, offshore bird and bat behavior, and other factors that influence the deployment of offshore wind turbines in the United States. The Biodiversity Research Institute and a diverse group of collaborators, for example, completed the largest ecological study ever conducted in the Mid-Atlantic to produce a detailed picture of the environment in Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Areas, which will aid permitting and environmental compliance for offshore wind projects.

WETO also collaborates with other federal agencies to create recommendations to help developers comply with statutory, regulatory, and administrative requirements for wildlife protection, national security, and public safety. The Wind Energy Technologies Office, for example, collaborated with the Department of the Interior on the Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines and Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance.

Animals are harmed by wind farms.

The potential for wind turbines to harm wild animals both directly, through collisions, and indirectly, through noise pollution, habitat loss, and reduced survival or reproduction, is a major concern for the business. Birds and bats, which contribute billions of dollars in economic benefits to the country’s agriculture sector each year by eating damaging insects, are among the most damaged animals.

Do windmills have an impact on bees?

Dr. Dariusz Karwan, a beekeeper, claims that wind farms do not affect bees. This is the result of his two-year investigation of 20 apiary households. Wind turbines have been thought to have a harmful impact on these insects in the past.

How many endangered birds do wind turbines kill?

Let’s take the average of the results from these research rather than going down the proverbial rabbit hole to figure out which study is the most accurate. This puts the number of birds killed by wind turbines in the United States in 2012 at at 366,000.

It’s worth noting that wind energy capacity has increased dramatically since then. Loss and colleagues found that there were 44,577 turbines in service in 2012, but the U.S. Wind Turbine Database shows that there are now 65,548 – a 47 percent increase. After accounting for the industry’s expansion, we estimate that about 538,000 birds die each year in the United States as a result of wind turbines.

However, because it takes into account the size of turbines as well as their number, mortality projections based on energy produced are more commonly utilized. According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind energy capacity in the United States increased by 86 percent from 60,067 megawatts (MW) in 2012 to 111,808 MW as of this writing in 2021. Taking this shift into account, it is estimated that 681,000 birds are killed by wind turbines in the United States each year.

Because many bird deaths go unnoticed by humans, these estimates are likely to underestimate the full scope of the problem.

Consider that little songbirds are the most common birds in the United States, and they are also the most commonly killed by turbines. At two wind sites in California, canines identified 1.6 and 2.7 times as many small bird mortality as human monitors, according to a research published in March 2020. Even after attempting to adjust for searcher detection error, which is normal practice in such investigations, this remained true.

Small birds accounted for 62.5 percent of the birds in the Erickson study’s data set. Taking 62.5 percent of the 681,000 annual mortality estimate and multiplying it by the 1.6- and 2.7-fold multipliers from the dog search study (along with the other 37.5 percent of birds), the total number of birds would be 936,000 and 1.4 million, respectively, based on the numbers from the two sites. By averaging the two, it’s estimated that 1.17 million birds are killed each year in the United States by wind turbines.

Wind generating projects have substantial secondary effects that must be considered in addition to the bird deaths mentioned above.

Many wind farms, for example, are positioned far from the current power infrastructure, necessitating the building of new powerlines, which adds to bird death.

Researchers estimated that 25.5 million birds are killed each year by accidents with powerlines, with another 5.6 million killed by electrocutions, according to a 2014 study. As a result, powerlines installed solely to connect new wind facilities to the existing energy grid result in extra bird deaths, which should be added into the total number of birds killed as a result of wind energy development.

Wind farms also necessitate a sizable amount of land. Facility development can fragment or otherwise alter habitat, making it unsuitable for species that have previously thrived there. For example, after one year, a study at wind farms in the Dakotas discovered displacement impacts for seven of nine grassland bird species. While these effects have been shown in a number of research, they have yet to be quantified at a large scale.

When the foregoing facts are reviewed, it becomes evident that current estimates of the toll of wind energy development on birds are limited and do not take into account the industry’s complete impact.

The estimations above are imperfect since they are based on research that were produced from an incomplete data collection.

While most wind farms are required to undertake bird surveys in order to influence project planning and post-construction bird fatality studies, they are not always required to share their findings, and many businesses keep their data confidential. Bird mortality could be better understood if this statistics were made publicly available, and conservation prescriptions could be adapted accordingly.

On a similar point, the species that are harmed by wind turbines must be taken into account. Others species are more vulnerable to accidents with wind turbines than others, and some have slower rates of reproduction, thus losses may have a greater impact on their populations. California Condors and Marbled Murrelets, two of our rarest and most iconic species, fall into this category and are at risk of colliding with wind turbines. Others, such as Whooping Cranes, are losing their habitat due to wind energy development.

As previously stated, our estimates indicate that the annual toll of birds killed by wind turbines in the United States is at least half a million, and an equally conservative estimate puts the figure at almost 700,000 birds. There’s an argument to be made that the figure could be higher than one million. These are all likely to be underestimates for the reasons indicated above.

Regardless of the details, this is much too many when one considers the numerous other risks to birds on the landscape, as well as the significant declines in bird populations that have already occurred.

What is the answer to this puzzle? How can we continue to build wind turbines to combat climate change while also killing birds? Bird-Smart Wind Energy is our solution. To avoid high-risk locations for birds, smart wind energy production begins with effective data collecting and suitable siting. The available mitigation measures can then be implemented to further reduce risks, and the effects should always be mitigated by strong on-the-ground mitigation measures.

Are bats killed by wind farms?

Dr. Voigt thinks that each wind turbine kills roughly ten bats each year on average. He claims that “there is a conflict between maintaining biodiversity and safeguarding the climate.”

Wind turbines kill more birds than anything else.

More birds are killed by feral cats, domestic cats, oil pits, poison, automobiles, power lines, and cell phone towers than by wind turbines.

Buildings with glass windows are the second-deadliest human-related cause of bird death, after cats. Every year, almost 600 million birds in the United States perish as a result of collisions with them.

In the energy-production industry, wind turbines aren’t even the leading cause of bird mortality. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, oil pits kill 500,000 to 1 million birds each year. That’s more than twice the number of birds as wind turbines.

Birds are drawn to oil pits in the mistaken belief that they are ponds, only to become trapped inside. Companies that left oil pits exposed for birds to become entangled in during President Barack Obama’s administration might face fines and criminal charges under the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act.