Predicting Eagles Collisions with Wind Turbines: The Science Just Got Better

(June 7, 2016) How can wildlife agencies, conservationists and wind energy developers predict the likelihood that an eagle will collide with a wind turbine?  A new scientific paper, sponsored by AWWI and undertaken by West, Inc., helps us answer that question by updating the model currently in use to predict such eagle “take.”

“Accurately predicting eagle collisions with wind turbines is challenging, but with this paper, our ability to do so just took another rigorous step forward,” said Dr. Taber Allison, Director of Research and Evaluation for AWWI. “This research is part of AWWI’s program to generate the science needed to advance wind energy – and thereby reap wind energy’s benefits – while conserving eagles and other wildlife and wildlife habitat.”

The authors compile site-specific data on eagle activity and fatalities at wind energy facilities to update and refine the Bayesian predictive eagle “take” model developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bayesian statistical models are intended to be improved as new data becomes available.

Predicting risk as accurately as possible is a basic first step in informed and effective decision-making to conserve eagles, which are protected under federal and other laws, while developing and operating wind energy projects.

The new study is now publicly available so that all parties, including wind energy companies, conservation organizations, and wildlife agencies, can use the information in their planning, assessments and decision-making. The study also comes at a time when the Service is proposing revisions to its comprehensive eagle conservation and management program to implement the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

For a link to the full study click here.

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