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PostPosted: January 17th, 2013, 9:34 am 
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Alan Greve wrote:
These birds and their numbers here in Southern Ontario are just starting to get a foot hold on their once historical range. There is less then a ten nest sites here in South Western Ontario and if anyone......Ministry or other wise thinks that's a lot they're smoking something other than cigarettes??

Maybe there's something else going on in the area that accounts for the numbers being so low? According to Bird Studies Canada (and Jody Allair), it would seem that heavy metal pollution is one of the more pressing and serious concerns.

"Bald Eagles in southern Ontario appear to have shortened life spans compared to other populations. A possible explanation for the shortened life span of Great Lakes eagles could be heavy metal poisoning. In the last few years, several Bald Eagles found dead in Ontario have had elevated levels of both mercury and lead in their bodies. Long-term exposure to such contaminants can limit an eagle's reproductive capabilities, alter their behaviour, impair their foraging abilities, increase their susceptibility to disease, and even result in death. Determining whether heavy metal exposure is a long-term problem that is responsible for decreased longevity is one of the main issues that the Southern Ontario Bald Eagle Monitoring Project is now addressing."

So to take this scientifically informed perspective seriously, wouldn't the best strategy for bald eagle recovery (which as been very successful over the last several years) be to minimize heavy metal pollution in the area. I wonder how we might best achieve that goal (maybe phasing out coal plants somehow)?


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PostPosted: January 17th, 2013, 9:59 am 
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idylwyld wrote:
Splake wrote:
I'm just not convinced that it was needed or justified under the circumstances.

Again ... does anybody have any scientific evidence that mitigation wasn't going to work in this instance (or even enhance the breeding prospects for these birds)?
...


You're skipping a couple of steps in the process.
1) Is there any need to remove the nest in the first place?
- until that question is answered there is no discussion of what mitigation strategy to use

2) Is there any evidence that the proposed mitigation will work?
- the onus is to provide evidence that the mitigation approach being proposed has a reasonable chance of success, the onus is not to provide evidence that it won't work
- in this case, in order to have a reasonable chance of success, you would need evidence that:
a) removal of the nest will not cause the eagles to abandon the territory
b) that the new nest the eagles build to replace the removed nest will most likely be at a "safe" distance from a wind turbine, with that safe distance apparently having been deemed to be 20 metres.
- if removing the nest causes the eagles to move 2 trees over and build a new one, then you haven't accomplished anything

So, while not agreeing that there was any justification for removing the nest in the first place, is there any scientific evidence that the mitigation steps taken will have the desired effect?

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PostPosted: January 17th, 2013, 10:53 am 
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Splake wrote:
1) Is there any need to remove the nest in the first place?
- until that question is answered there is no discussion of what mitigation strategy to use.

You don't think being located 25 m from a rotor blade merits efforts at wildlife conservation and mitigation and scientifically informed practices to "significantly reduce the risk of harm coming to" bald eagles?

Splake wrote:
2) Is there any evidence that the proposed mitigation will work?
- the onus is to provide evidence that the mitigation approach being proposed has a reasonable chance of success, the onus is not to provide evidence that it won't work

"The Impact of Human Activities on Breeding Bald Eagles in North-Central Minnesota." James D. Fraser, et. al. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 49(3):585-592.

"Unsuccessful nests had no greater frequency of known human activity within 500 m than successful nests (P = 0.27) … We found no evidence that, under current management practices, human activities have an important impact on bald eagle reproductive success on the Chippewa National Forest."

There is an abundance of scientific literature on Bald Eagle nesting and breeding behavior, and the major factors dictating breeding success are well documented and well understood (adequate food supplies, satisfactory nest site with associated perching areas, and visibility of adjacent territory/feeding grounds … human disturbance is less of a factor, but human efforts at conservation that maximize these conditions improve the nesting success for active breeding pairs). Based on specific recommendations from Ontario wildlife biologists for this area, I would also add very low environmental contamination from heavy metals.

Removing nests are permitted in the US under the right conditions (detailed in 50 CFR 22.27): "the Service can issue permits that allow the intentional take of eagle nests where necessary to alleviate a safety emergency to people or eagles, to ensure public health and safety, where a nest prevents use of a human-engineered structure, and to protect an interest in a particular locality where the activity or mitigation for the activity will provide a net benefit to eagles. Only inactive nests are allowed to be taken except in cases of safety emergencies."

These guidelines appear to have been met or exceeded in this instance. Others will have to tell me if anything similar exists in Canada (or whether such guidelines or rules need to be developed and proposed in light of this incident to better balance important wildlife conservation goals for protected species and development interests … roads, transmission lines, physical structures, communication towers, mining developments, forestry activities, and the like).

So I take it you are in favor of defining meaningful and science based federal or provincial environmental legislation that balance interests between public wildlife conservation goals and human development activities (in general), and not just for wind farms?


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PostPosted: January 17th, 2013, 11:35 am 
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For one we're talking two different populations......Minnesota and the central boundary waters population...... where there is a strong vibrant population. Southern and south western Ontario where the population is very weak at best! The overall negative human impact on the two populations is day and night.

Heavy metals...... I agree there is no doubt that fish populations in these water carry a much higher level of metals in the lower great lakes basin. That alone would suggest that these birds need a extra layer of protection. Have we made improvements on both sides of the boarders to minimize those pollutants? Yes! Should we be looking for greener forms of energy, ie; wind? Yes! The rest...... I would just be repeating myself!

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PostPosted: January 17th, 2013, 11:39 am 
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idylwyld wrote:
Splake wrote:
1) Is there any need to remove the nest in the first place?
- until that question is answered there is no discussion of what mitigation strategy to use.

You don't think being located 25 m from a rotor blade merits efforts at wildlife conservation and mitigation and scientifically informed practices to "significantly reduce the risk of harm coming to" bald eagles?


I completely agree that efforts at wildlife conservation are merited. In this case the wind turbine HAS NOT been built yet. The nest was NOT located within 25m of any rotor blades today (and the actual guideline is 20m). If and ONLY if the wind turbine is built in that exact location would the wind turbine THEN be located within 25m of the nest. The obvious and only justified action was to prohibit the construction of the single wind turbine in question.

Had the turbine actually been in place prior to the eagles building the nest, you would have a slightly different question, but the answer would stay the same - leave the nest alone. At that point, the eagles would have chosen the location despite the proximity to the existing turbine and despite any negative impact the turbine might have on their survival or reproductive success. The question, if any, would the be whether the existing turbine should be decommissioned at that point.
I wouldn't necessarily support demands to decommission an existing turbnine if eagles moved in to the area, but I'm very comfortable in opposing the construction of a new turbine when the eagles are already present.

Even if you believe that the construction of the turbine should take precedence, why remove the nest? Either the turbine will be a problem and the eagles will abandon the nest, or it won't be a problem and the eagles will continue using the nest.

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PostPosted: January 17th, 2013, 2:25 pm 
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Splake wrote:
The obvious and only justified action was to prohibit the construction of the single wind turbine in question.

For an "inactive" nest built after the approval of the development project … really?

Perhaps the best solution of all would have been to visit the site during the pre-construction phases of the project for enhanced monitoring and prevented the birds from building a nest in the area in the first place. A better site could have been selected, and the breeding prospects for the pair could have been significantly "improved" by moving to a new area (one less marginal or polluted from a wildlife habitat perspective … and any other scientifically valid criteria that are important to the breeding prospects of this particular species and these particular birds, who may or may not yet return for the new year).

I seem to recall someone, after 500 ducks landed in a syncrude tailings pond in 2010 (exposing environmental shortcoming and reporting malfeasance of the company), making a case that such incidents challenge us to think objectively about evaluating such impacts and trade-offs.

Splake wrote:
I'll admit that I also think the article is a challenge to people to be objective in evaluating the impact. 200 ducks in a year in Northern Alberta vs 300 birds in a day in Toronto? Neither is a good thing, but which is worse?

And now you are suggesting the objective bar to be met is apparently protecting an "inactive nest," two birds (who have not been harmed and who may not return to the area for the season), and a mitigation alternative that has the potential to be a net benefit to the birds enhancing their breeding prospects, meeting all regulatory, statutory, and scientifically informed wildlife conservation mitigation guidelines and recommendations (and on top of it, even improve the long term viability and protection of this species by lowering the heavy metals contamination of the area, a significant risk to these birds, by the amount of electricity that one turbine can generate).

I don't know … that doesn't sound very "objective" to me.


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PostPosted: January 17th, 2013, 3:14 pm 
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I'm glad you brought up the wildlife mortality. That is indeed a good metric of environmental impact. I'll offer the Wikipedia article as a good summary backed by many academic and government publications: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmen ... wind_power

The estimate of 44,000 birds killed in the US in 2009 due to wind turbines is quite a bit higher than the 200 ducks in the oil sands but still far less than the 109,500 birds a year in Toronto. If you have suggestions for mitigating bird mortality caused by cities, then we should probably start another thread for that discussion.

As for the current, not yet built, but possibly previously approved, single wind turbine, yes I think a decision to reposition that single turbine prior to construction would be a reasonable objective decision.

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PostPosted: January 17th, 2013, 3:48 pm 
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Splake wrote:
The estimate of 44,000 birds killed in the US in 2009 due to wind turbines is quite a bit higher than the 200 ducks in the oil sands but still far less than the 109,500 birds a year in Toronto. If you have suggestions for mitigating bird mortality caused by cities, then we should probably start another thread for that discussion.

So now you want to compare on an "objective" basis bird mortality from all turbines in US (some 0.003% of all bird deaths from anthropogenic source) to bird deaths in one tailings pond in one year in Alberta. How is that fair, scientific, balanced, or reasonable?

Here's the relevant comparison, if you are interested:

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/pressrel/11-64.html

"Every year an estimated 500,000 to 1 million birds are killed in oilfield production skim pits, reserve pits, and in oilfield wastewater disposal facilities according to a study published by Pepper Trail, forensic ornithologist with the Service's Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon." I take it you will be recommending we shut down these facilities sometime soon because the comparative bird mortality statistics are just too great (not to mention major accidental spills and pipeline breaks, which we continue to see on an all too frequent basis).

Again, no birds were harmed in the making of this story, and relocating this nest might be the best chance this pair have at successful reproduction (along with continuing to restore habitat and minimize pollution risks for the long term viability and recovery of the species).


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PostPosted: September 11th, 2013, 11:16 am 
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Federal biologists tally eagle deaths at US wind farms, say number likely to be much higher
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/federal-biolog ... nance.html

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PostPosted: September 11th, 2013, 1:03 pm 
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Splake wrote:
Federal biologists tally eagle deaths at US wind farms, say number likely to be much higher
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/federal-biolog ... nance.html

So on a "good metric of environmental impact[s]" (as you describe), can you suggest any other energy resource that on a comparative basis has as low an impact on wildlife and avian mortality as wind (or that can't be resolved with better siting and operational requirements)?


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PostPosted: September 11th, 2013, 1:40 pm 
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So on a "good metric of environmental impact[s]" (as you describe), can you suggest any other energy resource that on a comparative basis has as low an impact on wildlife and avian mortality as wind (or that can't be resolved with better siting and operational requirements)?[/quote]

SOLAR :D

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PostPosted: September 11th, 2013, 3:35 pm 
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Splake wrote:
SOLAR :D

You could be right!

For new home construction free energy at a modest cost is becoming commonplace in many locations.

Quote:
At least six of 10 largest U.S. homebuilders led by KB Home include the photovoltaic devices in new construction, according to supplier SunPower Corp. (SPWR) Two California towns are mandating installations, and demand for the systems that generate electricity at home will jump 56 percent nationwide this year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association ...

Lashing panels to roofs during construction is about 20 percent cheaper than after a house is built. Homeowners who can afford the extra $10,000 to $20,000 cost in return for free power threaten the business of traditional utilities such as Edison International of California or Kansas’ Westar Energy Inc.

So much so ... conventional utilities are getting scared with long term basis of their investments (50 to 60 years for nuclear), and rapidly changing energy markets (according to their own commissioned study on impacts of distributed generation and rapidly declining costs).


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