The US Fish and Wildlife Service is now accepting public comments on the expected accidental killing (or “accidental ingestion”) of California Condors in an existing wind turbine under the Endangered Species Act. As the species recovered from extinction, its range has continued to expand, bringing the birds more and more frequently to areas where wind turbines have been built.
“Condor restoration is a major conservation success story, so we must take the risk of wind turbines colliding very seriously,” said Joel Merriman, director of the Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign at American Bird Conservancy. “It is too much to lose even one of these great birds. We encourage the facility operator to study the fish and wildlife service carefully to determine the means by which the killing of condors can be avoided. “
“This is just one of several existing wind turbines in this area,” added Merriman. “It is difficult to conclude that we have already taken too great a risk with one or our rarest and most iconic birds.”
California Condor, Copyright Björn Anderson, from the Surfbirds Galleries
In the late 1980s, the California condor population was just over 20 birds. Thanks to decades of dedicated conservation efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now numbers more than 400 people. “The recovery of this species is testament to the tremendous effort by stakeholders and the strength of the Endangered Species Act,” said Merriman. “But we absolutely cannot take this recovery for granted. We need to make sure that we avoid this type of conflict now and in the future. “
“Smart wind power planning begins with choosing a suitable location that minimizes the risks to birds,” Merriman said. “This is especially true for species like California Condors, which have too many other threats and a slow rate of reproduction. We urge everyone involved to think harder about where wind turbines of this type may be built in the future. We will be there every step of the way to ensure that the appropriate lessons are learned. “