A spate of recent deaths of the once-endangered and iconic animal of the United States has sent an alarming shock to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). At least seven bald eagles have died in East Texas over the past year because of collisions with power lines.

The FWS does not collect data anymore on the bird’s population because of the financial cost, according to Brent Ortego, a Texas state biologist. Ortego and other biologists believe the population has continued to grow at a rate of 10 percent per year since the time the animal was de-listed in 2007.

But now, FWS agents are worrying that eagles may face an additional threat from electrocutions or collisions with power lines and poles in six Texas counties, and that’s just counting the birds they’ve been able to find. Ortego believes the death rate to be higher.

Bald eagles are such large birds that their wingspan reaches six to eight feet, which creates the problem of electricity transmission when their wings touch the wires between power line poles. Some electrical companies in Houston have provided a plan for preventing electrocutions to federal authorities in response. CenterPoint Energy Inc.’s strategies include installing “raptor guards” which are meant to prevent the eagle from roosting on wires and poles.

Authorities have the ability seek criminal prosecution for bird deaths under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection and the Migratory Bird Treaty, but for the time being it looks like charges against power companies are not being pursued.

Photo: Ken Schneider (kenschneiderusa, flickr)

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  • Dpineo

    Bald eagle deaths at power lines are another reason why wind power is a lie as so-called “green” energy.  The location of wind farms on ridge tops and other milennially traditional migration routes for many different species of birds and bats, plus all the new distribution lines required for moving power produced from source to market, and to smooth out its intermittent production with base load, plus the necessary government tax subsidy, plus the fact wind power does not displace thermal and hydro power in Denmark or Germany where its used the most, make wind power a lie we all pay for. Power lines are the second largest source of mortality for California condors, and the largest source of mortality to whooping cranes.  Their placement forever degrades and fragments the habitat on the ground in the rights of way.  

    • Jim Wiegand

      This article is really a cover story put out by the Feds. Word must have gotten out and now they are trying to make it go away. Even if someone saw the all dead eagles on wind farm property under a turbine, these guys would say they hit power-lines or were all electrocuted.

  • Dottie

    After traveling through the panhandle of West Texas this week, it must be noted that this is  another land base for killing eagles and other raptures.  Hundreds of Wind Turbines are lining the skylines.  Most high points have them planted in row upon row and they are  going like crazy. They are 200-400- feet high.  No wonder the bald eagle is going to be killed.  Is this “green energy” or is it a sham?  And no agency is looking into it because it’s too expensive?  Really?  How much did citizens pay to bring the Bald Eagle from extinction?  How many dollars were spent for this cause?  Are we just letting this “green energy” destroy our national bird?  Limon, Colorado also has wind turbines (wind farm) being put in and power lines which will extend back into several counties. These companies know there are roasting Bald Eagles in the area,  they claim they are there and that pair will probably be effected.  Really!

    • Jim Wiegand

      This article is really a cover story put out by the Feds. Word must have gotten out and now they are trying to make it go away. Even if someone saw the all dead eagles on wind farm property under a turbine, these guys would say they were all electrocuted.

  • Jim Wiegand

    What
    a ridiculous article and a load of propaganda. This article is really a cover story put out by the Feds. These
    eagles were most likely killed by wind turbines because these turbines
    slaughter everything that flies. I would also bet there are no images or any evidence to examine. This is
    how the corrupt operate.

    The plight of the Whooping Cranes is a perfect example of our corrupt system.
    More than 100 were lost the last year and this endangered species will be gone
    within 5 years. This is due to the thousands of turbines have recently been
    stuffed into their flyway. In a few years there will be so many turbines with
    so much rotor sweep in their habitat, it will be impossible for them to
    survive. The turnover in the population will be too great as the population
    loses it’s breeders.

    But the public has heard nothing of this and you probably never will. The
    official blame for their demise will be some disease like botulism, bad weather
    or some other made up tale. When this does happen a lot of hoopla will be made
    about how the USFWS is going to revive the population from their “contrived”
    catastrophe. Politicians will step in for the good publicity and plenty of
    money will be allocated for the production of bogus studies and for the care of
    these refugees.

    But it will all be just another lie, just like it has been for 28 years about
    the propeller style wind turbine. In the end, all we will have left of the
    Whooping Cranes will be small populations from breeding projects that do not migrate.
    They will be fed and taken care of……….. But their world will have been taken
    from them.

    This already has happened with the California Condors, Mercenary experts, the
    media, politicians, and government agencies all deceived the public. But I am
    not just concerned about Golden Eagles, California Condors and Whooping Cranes.
    There are dozens of other species destined to be annihilated by the wind
    industry. Species that are not high profile and that most have never heard of.
    Species never seen hanging around Wal-Mart parking lots. Those like the Least
    Bell’s Vireo or the Egyptian Vulture.

    I have seen every conceivable argument and tidbit of propaganda justifying wind
    energy from every corner of the world and there is one element that is nearly
    always overlooked. Regardless of the energy source and the arguments, no one
    should ever condone the fraud that has carried this industry for decades. I
    know from all the wildlife studies and surveys I have read, that with this
    industry, there never has been a level playing field and because of many layers
    of corruption, wind industry mortality has been hidden. Take it from an expert
    that doesn’t play the game, if the public insisted on proper mortality studies
    at wind farms, they will find the results to be staggering.

    One of those wind farm areas that would shock the public lies in Texas. I have written
    about the Whooping cranes disappearing in Texas
    but what most are not aware of is that Texas
    has a large resident and migratory population of Golden Eagles. Texas Also has
    more than 20 times the rotor sweep of Altamont
    and much of it lies in Golden Eagle Habitat. Yet reports for wind industry
    golden eagle deaths in Texas
    are virtually non existent. I know with out any question that thousands of
    eagles have been killed in Texas.

    As far as I am concerned there will never be any viable solutions for problems
    in America,
    with a system in place that rewards the criminals. That is because the best
    ideas can and will be buried for decades. I know that one of those ideas, is
    that we should have killed the propeller style wind turbine long ago.

  • Mr. Wiegand’s monstrous allegations that wind farms are killing whooping cranes are completely unsupported. There is absolutely no evidence that a single whooping crane has been even annoyed by a wind farm.

    Mr. Wiegand ignores the sworn court testimony of the biggest expert on whooping cranes, Tom Stehn. Mr. Stehn, the individual most responsible for the growth of the whooping crane population over the past 30 years, points the finger squarely at drought and State of Texas mismanagement of freshwater flowing into the brackish marshes where whooping cranes winter.

    Mr. Stehn has also been heavily involved in the work of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, innumerable bird preservation agencies and the wind industry to protect whooping cranes as wind farms are built. Interventions include markers on power lines, movement of planned powerlines away from the migration route, outright abandonment of some planned sites to ensure no impacts and hiring wildlife biologists during migration seasons to watch for whooping cranes so that wind turbines can be shut down immediately if whooping cranes close to under a mile.

    Those unfamiliar with Jim Wiegand should know the following:- he’s the VP of an anti-wind lobbyist organization, the inappropriately named “Save the Eagles International”- he’s an antique dealer, not a wildlife biologist – undergraduate studies 40 years in the past do not make him an expert
    The largest threat to wildlife including whooping cranes is global warming. Wind farms directly assist with reducing that threat. Major studies by credible, arms-length organizations show that wind energy has the lowest impact on wildlife and the environment of any form of generation. There are specific sites where specific endangered birds are put at risk. Engaging in detailed attention to those sites to protect those birds is strongly of value. Claiming extinction threats for entire species as Wiegand does is both completely false, and distracts from the important work of detailed, site-specific efforts.

    Citations, quotes and links addressing all of the above can be found here:
    http://www.quora.com/Wind-Power/Are-wind-farms-killing-endangered-whooping-cranes/answer/Mike-Barnard

  • Jim Wiegand

    Here are some real facts about the industry. Wind Farms
    slaughter birds. Millions of them and most are protected species. Wind farms do
    not kill 2.9 birds per MW as the industry claims these turbines kill between
    30-100 birds per MW. That is until their populations start
    plummeting. The information below was copied from a report released in 2008 in
    by a group of University Professors and Ornithologists that were not paid off
    by the industry.

    Development of wind projects is likely to cause:

    a. Bird mortality caused by collisions with operating turbines and/or elements
    of auxiliary infrastructure, in particular overhead power lines;

    b. Decrease in population due to loss and fragmentation of habitats caused by
    deterring effect of the wind turbines and/or development of

    communication and energy infrastructure related to operations of the wind
    turbines,

    c. Disturbance to populations, in particular to short- and long – range bird
    migrations (the barrier effect).

    The wind industry has been slaughtering bird populations and lying about it for
    decades. What is written above is the reason why the Wood Buffalo-Aransas
    Whooping Cranes population is disappearing. Their 2012 population should be
    around 375-400 but it is only about half that due to the explosion of wind
    industry development in their migration corridor. It is not drought that is
    killing them as the USFWS and wind industry would like us to believe, but
    thousands of 400-500 ft wind turbines slashing at 200 mph through hundreds of millions
    of cubic feet of air space.

    The widely quoted USFWS estimate of 440,000 birds killed annually by the wind
    industry is years outdated. Yet it is still being used. Even though it was low
    it was based on only 25GW of installed capacity. Today in the US we are at
    53GW of installed capacity, with another 10,000 MW currently under
    construction. Then one has to consider these factors that come into play with
    these estimates. The USFWS has only “Voluntary Regulations” for the
    wind industry. The industry can do what ever they want and nothing will happen
    to them. I have gone through the bogus mortality studies conducted by mercenary
    biologists around wind turbines. They are using search areas that are
    deliberately 8-10 times too small; their searches are also not done daily. This
    is needed to try to keep up with scavengers that are making a living off of
    chopped up birds. The wind industry has gag orders written into contracts with
    lease holders and employees to silence these people. There is high security at
    all wind farms. The wind industry personnel are routinely picking up bodies and
    they hide them. I have documentation on this. Some studies from out of this
    country show a death rate of over 100 birds per MW from wind turbines but the
    AWEA estimates only 2.9 birds killed per MW. These numbers might as well come
    from Syria and Iran because
    the real numbers are at least 10 times
    higher.

    The time to move is TODAY if you want to help save the whopping cranes and
    other rare bird species. For this to take place the public needs to reject all
    the wind industry lies, studies and cover stories about their impacts because
    they have been rigged for 28 years. The fact that no whooping crane death has
    ever been recorded at a wind farm is true, but it means nothing. The industry
    posturing of no dead body, equals no evidence, and therefore we are innocent is
    statement of total fabrication.

    By now everyone should realize that industry operates in complete secrecy with
    total control of their wind farms. Wind farms are patrolled daily by personnel
    looking for bodies and a huge white bird would be hard to miss. A sliced up
    whooping crane body will never be produced from a wind farm until they get
    their incidental kill permits (this is in their plans) from the USFWS. Some
    whooping cranes are wearing GPS transmitters, but if one happens to die at a
    wind farm with a transmitter on, they know the drill, just take the transmitter
    and give it a ride away from the site.

    There really is enough indirect evidence to conclude that the wind industry is
    killing the whooping crane and millions of other birds that go unreported by
    this industry. There is even more evidence then that what used to convict
    murderer Drew Peterson. But if anyone disagrees then just try to change the
    USFWS “Voluntary regulations” for this industry so that a body could
    not be hidden. Such an action would be met head on with every once of
    resistance the industry could muster because they know that if wind farm
    secrecy and the gag orders were ever lifted, this industry would shrivel up
    over night.

    For more information on the Whooping cranes visit the Whooping Crane
    Conservation Association web site and look up flock status. Make sure you up
    the graph that shows their steep population decline that began with the
    explosion of turbines that have invaded their migration route. Also when you
    get there you can also read what Tom Stehn had to say about the newly adopted
    (Bogus) USFWS method of counting/exaggerating whooping cranes.

    • Mark Duchamp

      Mr Barnard,

      Unlike you, I am not paid to deliver arguments on worldwide forums. I don’t have much time either to post comments. So I will be as brief as possible. You wrote: “There are specific sites where specific endangered birds are put at risk. Engaging in detailed attention to those sites to protect those birds is strongly of value.”
      All right, let’s do that. Let’s “engage in detailed attention” to Altamont Pass, for instance. This is a huge windfarm that is killing, or was killing in 2004, an average of 116 golden eagles a year. So what happened? “Detailed attention was engaged”, and … guess what? – The windfarm was given a new lease on life for another 25 years. This is the “solution” you are telling us we should follow, right?

      You have the money on your side, Mr Barnard, and all the bogus “scientific” studies that money can buy. You also have most bird societies, who love birds, but also money. You also have most NGO’s like Greenpeace and WWF, which have been highjacked by political interests, and don’t mind donations either, or joint ventures, whatever. But there’s one thing you can’t have, Mr Barnard, and the wind lobby that’s behind you: you can’t have Save the Eagles International. Why? – Because we can’t be bought.

      So you may resort to ad hominem, you may huff and you may puff, but STEI will stay on course. We are volunteers, Mr Barnard, and we will continue getting the truth out, rain or shine.

      Eat your heart out.

  • Jim Wiegand

    I no longer believe that turbines kill between 30-100 birds per MW because new information has come to light. I can now say that this figure is between 30-300 bird deaths per MW. The world will soon know all about the hidden slaughter going on at Wolfe Island. Simply put the Wolfe Island studies are the worst ever produced in North America. The only study worse was produced in Europe by backers of the wind industry.Their fraudulent study blamed tourism on the disappearance (abandoned territories) of the golden eagle from the remote regions of Finland.

    There is also new information from Altamont pass about their flawed studies that claimed their huge turbines were safer. I believe there is going to be a press release. This newspaper should watch for it.

  • Jim Wiegand
  • Jim Wiegand

    When people support the wind industry they support an industry built on
    fraud, the slaughter of protected species, and hiding these terrible
    impacts. The Wolfe Island studies were rigged and hid somewhere close to
    98% of the mortality from their turbines. The Canadian Government was
    behind these rigged studies.

    A recent AP story about eagles killed by turbines has a similar ring to
    it because the eagle kills from turbines were grossly understated in the
    Raptor Research article by at least 90%. They never come close to
    finding them all, the industry hides bodies, and even if they do find
    them, the mortality wounded that wander far away from the industry’s
    tiny search areas do not count in their studies.

    The bald eagle killed by a wind turbine seen in the photograph at the
    link below is over well over 400 meters yards from the turbines and this
    disgusting industry does not count these bodies in their mortality
    studies because it is outside their tiny designated search areas. This
    is typical of the wind industry’s fraud that has been going on since the
    early 1980′s.

    PHOTO OF BALD EAGLE KILLED BY A WIND TURBINE CAN BE SEEN ON YAHOO NEWS study-wind-farms-killed-67-eagles-5-years-160226373