Obama Authorizes Kill Order for Bald Eagles-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
A new rule handed down by President Obama would authorize wind farms to kill thousands of bald eagles, which amounts to a “kill order for bald eagles.”
It’s true that the Obama administration released a plan in May 2016 that would allow wind-energy farms to legally kill four times more eagles per year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s proposal would extend “eagle permits” that are issued to wind farms from five years to 30 years. The permits determine how many golden and bald eagles can be killed without penalty by wind turbines or other obstructions in their habitats, Reuters reports:
…The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that the U.S. population of roughly 40,000 golden eagles could endure the loss of about 2,000 birds a year without being pushed toward extinction. And the agency suggested that bald eagles, estimated to number about 143,000 nationwide, could sustain as many as 4,200 fatalities annually without endangering the species.
But just because U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes that bald eagle populations could endure 4,200 fatalities each year without threatening the species does not necessarily mean that’s going to happen.
There’s no clear indication of exactly how many bald eagles and golden eagles are killed by wind farms each year — but the number of fatalities appears to be far fewer than the “thousands” of bald eagles that some outlets have reported would be killed each year under the proposal.
A 2012 study published by the Fish and Wildlife Service found that wind energy facilities had killed at least 85 golden and bald eagles from 1997 to 2012 — but the report concluded that the number of fatalities could be much higher than that, National Geographic reports:
Eagles are particularly vulnerable to wind turbine collision because of their flight behavior. They soar along ridges and in winds that can also attract wind developments. They tend to fly at the altitude of the turbine rotor-swept area, especially when they are hunting. And when they are hunting, their senses are focused on the ground looking for prey, not watching for spinning blades.
The impact of wind farms on golden eagles became startlingly clear in 2004, when the California Energy Commission conducted a mortality study at Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area’s 5,400 turbines. Estimates of golden eagles killed at the Wind Resource Area are an average of 67 or more per year, along with thousands of other raptors and other birds.
So, it’s true that the Obama administration has proposed increasing the number of bald eagles that could be killed by a wind farm each year without penalty. It’s does not, however, appear to be true that “thousands” of eagles will be killed each year, or that the proposal amounts to a “kill order for bald eagles.”