There is lots of talk about harnessing the power of wind to generate environmentally friendly renewable energy. These technologies can provide benefits over more conventional forms of energy production; however we must not assume that these technologies have zero negative impacts on the environments. One Impact which is slowly being uncovered is the deadly results there “wind farm” can have on local bat populations.
The University of Maryland doctoral student turned up something unexpected amid the trees and rolling ridges of Backbone Mountain: hundreds of bat carcasses, some with battered wings and bloodied faces. “It was really a shock,” Kerns said. Thousands of bats have died at Backbone and on another nearby wind farm in Meyersdale, Pa. — more per turbine than at any other wind facility in the world, according to researchers’ estimates. The deaths are raising concerns about the impact of hundreds more turbines planned in the East, including some in western Maryland, as the wind industry steps up expansion beyond its traditional areas in the West and Great Plains.The bat problem could worsen, conservationists fear, as wind developers rush to erect new turbines following the recent renewal of a federal tax break for a year. The wind industry, which had been virtually dormant since the last tax break expired a year ago, projects more wind turbines to be built around the country this year than in any previous year. In the areas near where bats have been killed in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, activists said, roughly 700 new turbines have been proposed or approved. – The Washington Post
Why is this an issue? Bats in some areas number in the millions, and eat a correspondingly enormous amount of insects every night. If these bat populations are to be reduced in numbers, there is the very real risk that more pesticides would be used to kill the increased numbers of insects. This would be an issue especially in agricultural areas, where these insects could decimate certain crops. Regulators need to pay closer attention to the environmental impacts of wind power and as consumers we need to reduce the amount of power we consume.