Science for Policy and Practice

Through research and tool development, AWWI provides the science that wind-wildlife stakeholders need to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. AWWI’s research program is guided by the AWWI Research Program Plan and is currently focused on eagles, bats, sage-grouse, prairie chickens, and reporting the facts. Learn more below.

Credit: Tom Ryon, NREL PIX 24481
Credit: USFWS Mountain Prairie, Flickr
Credit: Brent Nelson, NREL, PIX 23904

Eagles

Eagles, America’s iconic birds, are protected under federal law, which prohibits the taking (killing, wounding, or disturbing) of bald and golden eagles without a permit. Eagles can be killed or disturbed by wind turbines, yet, as the most commercially viable and scalable form of renewable energy, wind power is critical to addressing climate change, a major threat to eagles and other wildlife. AWWI’s Eagle Initiative is focused on generating the science needed to avoid, minimize, and compensate for eagle take so that wind energy facilities can minimize their impacts and maintain compliance with federal laws.


What We Know

The AWWI White Paper, Eagles and Wind Energy: Identifying Research Priorities (2012), provides information on:

  • population status and trends of bald and golden eagles,
  • anthropogenic sources of eagle mortality
  • potential mitigation options
  • research and conservation priorities

Learning More

AWWI has worked with internationally recognized eagle experts to create a framework for a national, hypothesis-driven research program on eagles and wind energy. The principal goals of this framework are to guide research that improves our ability:

  • to predict and estimate take of eagles at wind energy facilities,
  • to develop measures intended to avoid and minimize the take of eagles at operating wind energy facilities, and
  • to expand options to compensate or mitigate for unavoidable take.

Providing Mitigation Options

AWWI is creating a mitigation toolbox that can be used to compensate for eagle take at wind energy facilities, enabling companies to more easily satisfy the requirements of their take permits. Working with government agency staff and scientific experts in eagle biology and lead toxicology, we have completed the first option – a rigorous, quantitative, and geographically based model that predicts the effects of voluntary lead abatement on eagle survival. As we move forward with the implementation of this model, additional models will be developed for reducing eagle vehicle collision deaths and improving prey habitat to increase eagle survival and productivity.

Bald Eagle

Bats

Fatalities of bats have been reported at all wind energy facilities where data are available, in many cases at a rate higher than birds. Unlike bird collision mortality, bat mortality is concentrated in a few species, and we have insufficient knowledge regarding the species’ ability to sustain such mortality.

AWWI is working to convene a group of biologists and experts in wind technology to examine the major challenges and threats that wind turbines cause for bats and to develop creative solutions to overcome them. From this process, AWWI will develop a set of research priorities to help us answer crucial questions about bats and wind.

AWWI coordinates with the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative on work to understand and minimize bat fatalities at wind energy facilities.

Credit-J. N. Stuart, Flickr
Credit-USFWS, Ann Froschauer, Flickr
Mexican-Free-Tailed-Bats_Credit-USFWS-Ann-Froschauer-Flickr

Prairie Grouse

Wind turbines and associated infrastructure (such as roads) occupy a small area, but wind energy projects can cover thousands of acres: the potential exists for disturbance to wildlife that uses the area for habitat. Two such species, the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and Greater Sage-Grouse, are both experiencing declining populations due to factors unrelated to wind power development, yet the core habitat of these species overlaps some of the best wind resource areas in the U.S.

AWWI works with scientists, our Partners, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and state agency staff responsible for protecting these species to:

  • provide data that better characterize the risk of wind energy development on prairie grouse species,
  • offer policy makers the information needed for the implementation of national or state recommended practices, and
  • provide strategies for effective mitigation of potential impacts.

AWWI facilitates the NWCC Sage-Grouse Research Collaborative. Visit the NWCC site to learn more.

Credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region, Flickr
Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, Flickr
Credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

Reporting the Facts

AWWI serves as a trusted and credible source for the facts of wind energy and wildlife, and we are committed to providing up-to-date analyses and syntheses of peer-reviewed research.

To view the AWWI publication, “Wind Turbine Interactions with Wildlife and their Habitats: A Summary of Research Results and Priority Questions,” click here. This fact sheet summarizes what is known about the adverse impacts of land-based wind power on wildlife in North America and the status of our knowledge regarding how to avoid or minimize these impacts.

 

Wikipedia
Credit: Ken Billington, wiki
Credit: Joshua Mayer, Flickr

More on Our Approach

circ1Technological Innovation: AWWI drives the implementation of innovative strategies in the conservation and research communities and the wind development field. More

 

partners

Information Exchange: Through our Partners and Friends and the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, AWWI provides a forum to share wind-wildlife solutions and ensure that information empowers action that leads to sustainable results.  More

Get Involved

AWWI’s success is based on wide collaboration with all who hold a stake in the success of wind energy and the protection of wildlife and habitat. By working together, we can move toward a common goal. Here is how you can help:

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Engage With Us

Offer your input and ideas to build the AWWI collaboration or support AWWI as a partner organization. To learn more about opportunities to engage with AWWI, contact us.

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Support our Work

Wind Energy and Wildlife. We need both for a healthy, sustainable planet. Your donation will support AWWI’s work which generates technological innovation, policy-relevant science, and outreach and education.

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