Industrial Wind Turbines Contribute to the Population Decline / Mortality of Many Species

A growing body of evidence indicates that Industrial wind turbines negatively impact local and migrant wildlife. The research and literature available on birds and bats is extensive.  The three most commonly cited causes of population decline and mortality include: collision / wake, habitat degradation / loss and barrier effects. 

Collision / Wake

Industrial wind turbines generate a substantial wake – which compromises avian ability to fly and hunt. Below is a picture of industrial wind turbine wake; pity the poor owl hunting for voles, the monarch butterfly migrating or the bat chasing insects. 

Collision with a moving turbine blade or associated infrastructure, resulting in immediate death or prolonged fatal injury, is a common cause of population decline.  IWT lighting systems may add to the toll by attracting and/or confusing exhausted migrants at night.  

Each of the turbines proposed for Amherst Island measures over 500 feet tall and the speed at the tip of the blade can reach up to 275 kilometers per hour. The turbines have a swept area (the area covered by the blades as they spin) of 10,000 square metres, almost 2.5 acres for each turbine. This equates to an Amherst Island “kill zone” covering between 80 to 90 acres 

Migratory and resident birds, bats and butterflies will be subject to a lethal gauntlet of rotating turbine blades as they forage for food.

The Amherst Island silo in the picture below (one of the tallest structures on the island) stands approximately 100 feet tall; clearly the churning blades of the massive turbines will dominate the landscape

Barrier Effect

Obstacles to seasonal and daily movements to and from potential resting, feeding, breeding, roosting and molting areas also contribute to population decline.  Large wind energy facilities may interfere with the ability of birds and other wildlife to travel between feeding, wintering, and nesting sites.

Amherst Island is a small island that supports the foraging needs of a large owl population. Owls rely upon a foraging range well beyond their nesting area. Owl Woods, a birding Mecca of international renown, is threatened by an array of 4 turbines which march the width of the island, establishing an impossibly narrow gauntlet through which the birds must fly in order to access the foraging fields scattered throughout the island

Habitat Degradation and Loss

Population decline is the inevitable outcome of the habitat degradation and loss that results from the significant disruption caused by the spinning turbine blades and ensuing flicker. Turbine construction and maintenance requires roads and ancillary structures including power lines, substation, operation and maintenance buildings, etc.  These, along with the low-frequency noise and vibration, also contribute significantly to the overall loss of habitat. 

The initial construction activity and / or routine maintenance operations may cause local wildlife to abandon the site permanently. According a 2009 article by R.I McDonald, Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America“Overall, it has been estimated that 3-5% of the area of commercial wind turbine development is habitat loss due to construction, while 95-97% of the impact area is from fragmenting habitats, andspecies avoidance behaviour." 

Below is a Map of Amherst Island indicating the locations of the 31 to 37 industrial wind turbines proposed by Algonquin Power Corporation.  The red circles indicate a 550 metre setback from the centre of the turbine base. Clearly, the turbines with their ancillary structures and roads will blanket the island, negatively affecting the biodiversity of the entire island.  

The Kingston Field Naturalists maintain a bird sanctuary at the eastern tip of the Island. In addition to its prolific bird population, the Island is home to about five hundred deer, as well as large populations of raccoons, rabbits, coyotes and foxes.  

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