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E-M:/ Seminar: Wildlife and Wind Generation

Enviro-Mich message from "Link, Terry" <link@mail.lib.msu.edu>

	">Can we beat the scavengers?>The Challenge of quantifying wildlife impacts of wind generation."

Dr. Rolf Koford, Iowa State University, 
Thursday, September 8 Michigan State University, in 338 Natural Resources Building

>>>Promoters of wind energy like to point to its low environmental
>>>cost.  Although mountain-top removal is not required to harvest wind
>>>energy, wind farms can negatively affect wildlife species in a variety of
>>>ways.  Mortality is the most obvious effect, but there may be behavioral
>>>effects (e.g., avoidance of areas near towers) as well.  Wildlife
>>>researchers can play a useful role by providing information used in
>>>developing siting guidelines for windfarms, by monitoring wildlife
>>>populations before and after construction, and by assessing effects on
>>>population viability.  Quantifying effects on wildlife, and understanding
>>>how they vary spatially, has proven to be challenging.  Planned
>>>experiments, the strongest basis for inference, are unheard of in 
>>>windfarm studies.  Scavengers may find carcasses before searchers 
>>>do.  Bored or >>>distracted searchers may miss some carcasses.  Behavior is variable and
>>>has  multiple influences.  In 2003-2004, a study in northern Iowa was
>>>designed to address some of these challenges at a newly constructed
>>>89-tower wind farm.  The study, funded mostly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
>>>Service (State Wildlife Grant), the company that managed the wind farm, and
>>>the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), was conducted by
>>>biologists with the IDNR and Iowa State University (Iowa Cooperative Fish
>>>and Wildlife Research Unit).  The wind towers were all on gently rolling
>>>cropland (corn and soybeans).  To facilitate carcass searches, strips of
>>>ground were kept bare of vegetation.  We estimated the total number of
>>>birds and bats killed each year by adjusting the carcass counts to account
>>>for proportion of the area searched, search efficiency, and scavenging
>>>rate.  Bird abundance and bat activity (assessed with bat detectors) near
>>>towers was compared to abundance and activity away from towers.  We
>>>examined Canada Goose foraging activity and vigilance behavior in an area
>>>closed to goose hunting.  Approximately 1 million goose-use days were
>>>documented each year in three wildlife management areas within a few miles
>>>of the wind farm.  Our findings indicate which taxa were most at risk at
>>>this site.  In conjunction with results from other studies, our findings
>>>provide some guidance for siting midwestern windfarms and direct attention
>>>to additional research needs.

		>>Dr. Koford has experience researching the effects of wind towers on 
		>>wildlife.  He is a wildlife biologist working for the USGS Iowa 
		>>Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and has a faculty position 
		>>in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa 
		>>State University.  For the past three decades, he has conducted field 
		>>studies on a variety of vertebrate species, as well as constructing 
		>>simulation models of mallard populations.  He has conducted field work in 
		>>Arizona, California, Costa Rica, Iowa, and North Dakota.  He recently 
		>>supervised a graduate-student project on a northern Iowa wind farm that 
		>>was placed in the middle of three wildlife areas.  He helped design the 
		>>study, conduct analyses, and interpret results, thus gaining familiarity 
		>>with issues relevant to wind farms and wildlife.  The project included 
		>>assessing mortality of birds and bats, surveying abundance, and examining 
		>>behavioral responses by birds.  He has given technical assistance to 
		>>private companies and public agencies in Wisconsin in connection with the 
		>>permitting process for a proposed wind farm near Horicon Marsh.

		Sponsored by DOE, State Energy Office, and MSU Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife

Terry Link, Director
Office of Campus Sustainability
Michigan State University
15 Olds Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
1-517-355-1751 (Phone/fax)

One planet, one family, one future

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