Officials Weigh the Cost of Saving Eagles and Wind Energy

The golden eagle—a large, powerful bird—is at the center of efforts to conserve the environment and balance energy in the western United States.

Government policy protects golden eagles. But it also supports the construction and growth of wind farms. Wind farms are groups of giant windmills that generate electricity from the wind. The problem is that windmills are often responsible for killing golden eagles.

in Wyoming

The center of the conflict is the state of Wyoming, home to many golden eagles. It is also home to many large wind farms.

In April, the Florida-based power company pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to criminal violations of wildlife protection laws. Its wind turbines killed more than 100 golden eagles in eight states. The case was the third conviction Of a major wind company that has been killing eagles for 10 years.

Clouds cast shadows near wind turbines at a wind farm along the Montana-Wyoming state line, Monday, June 13, 2022. The rush to build wind farms to combat climate change is clashing with the protection of one of the American West’s most magnificent predators. golden eagle. (AP Photo/Emma H. ​​Tobin)

Federal officials have sought to reduce wind turbine fatalities while preventing any slowdown in wind power growth. Some consider wind energy a better option than carbon-based fuels that emit carbon dioxide into the air.

Reducing fossil fuels is a big part of President Joe Biden’s climate plans.

It’s Bryan Bedrosian conservation Wilson, director at the Teton Raptor Center in Wyoming. He said, “We have some of the best golden eagle populations in Wyoming, but that doesn’t mean the population isn’t at risk.” He added: “As we increase wind development in the US, this risk increases.”

An unclear future

Golden eagles do not breed until they are about five years old. Every two years they have a baby bird or chick. Bedrosian said the resulting adult eagle deaths have a major impact on the population.

There are approximately 40,000 golden eagles in the United States

Scientists say that deaths from wind farm collisions could reduce the number of golden eagles.

Despite the deaths, scientists like Bedrosian say more turbines are needed to fight climate change.

Bryan Bedrosian, an ecologist with the Teton Raptor Center, prepares to return a young golden eagle to its nest Wednesday, June 15, 2022, near Cody, Wyo., after banding the bird for future monitoring as part of a long-term population study of the species.  (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

Bryan Bedrosian, an ecologist with the Teton Raptor Center, prepares to return a young golden eagle to its nest Wednesday, June 15, 2022, near Cody, Wyo., after banding the bird for future monitoring as part of a long-term population study of the species. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

The US Geological Survey (USGS) reports that the number of wind turbines across the country has more than doubled to 72,000 in the last 10 years. Frequent wind development projects overlap With golden eagle habitat in states including Wyoming, Montana, California, Washington and Oregon.

Increased turbine-related deaths could cut the golden eagle population by almost half within 10 years, USGS scientists said in a recent study. Scientists have warned that this could happen if the predicted growth in wind power continues.

But the study’s lead author, Jay Diffendorfer, said the population has seen no decline in recent years. This suggests that some predictions may not be true.

Climate change is also a major threat to golden eagles. The National Audubon Society warns that rising temperatures could reduce golden eagle breeding grounds by more than 40 percent over about 80 years.

Illegal shooting is the biggest cause of golden eagle deaths, killing about 700 golden eagles each year, according to federal government estimates. More than 600 people die each year from crashes involving cars, wind turbines and power lines. About 500 are electrocuted, and more than 400 are poisoned.

Federal wildlife officials are pushing wind companies to participate in a permit program that allows the companies to kill eagles if the deaths are compensated. Offset means creating an even balance between things.

Authorized companies can pay utility companies to replace power poles so that the lines are spaced far enough apart that eagles cannot easily be electrocuted. Every 11 poles shifted means one eagle death each year.

The 34 permits available in the country last year allowed companies to “take” 170 golden eagles. This means that 170 birds could be killed by the turbines or lost as a result of the impacts nests or residential areas.

For each loss, the companies are responsible for preventing at least one eagle death elsewhere. Using conservative estimates, this method can even represent gains for the Eagles over time, Brian Millsap said. Millsap heads the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s eagle program.

He said, “It sounds rough but realistic. There will be eagles accidentally those killed in wind farms… We need to reduce other things that will allow the development of wind energy.”

I’m John Russell.

Matthew Brown informed the Associated Press about it. John Russell adapted it for learning English.


Words in this Story

turbine – n. a tall structure with large blades attached to an engine and used to generate electricity

conviction n. the act of proving a person guilty of a crime through a court of law

conservation – n. protection of animals, plants and natural resources

overlap – v. having parts that are the same as parts of something else

utility company – n. company providing electricity, water or other essential services

nest – n. a place where a bird lays eggs and cares for its young

rough – adj. not understanding or showing what is right or acceptable : rude and indifferent

accidentally – adv. not on purpose


What do you think of this story about eagles? We want to hear from you.

We have a new comment system. How it works:

1. Type your comment in the box.

2. Below the box you can see four images for social media accounts. They are for Disqus, Facebook, Twitter and Google.

3.Click on an image and a box will appear. Enter a login for your social media account. Or you can create one in the Disqus system. It’s a blue circle with a “D” on it. It’s free.

Every time you return to the Learning English site to post a comment, you can use your account and see your comments and replies to them. Our comment policy is here.


Leave a Comment