While making a presentation recently to a meeting of the Audubon Society in North Las Vegas, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Brian Novosak flashed on a screen in the darkened room a stark description of the fowl carnage taking place at the Altamont Pass Wind farm in the Diablo Range east of San Francisco — between 2005 and 2010, 55 to 94 golden eagles were killed each year, as well as upwards of 718 burrowing owls and up to 9,300 passerines (your basic songbirds).
“The Fish & Wildlife Service is getting more aggressive with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act,” Novosak said.
Closer to home is Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind farm near Ely, where a golden eagle was recently killed.
A BLM spokesman said Spring Valley wind has a mortality threshold for golden eagles of one.
If another golden eagle is killed a Technical Advisory Committee will meet and recommend what mitigation to take, which could curtail operation of turbines or even shut down turbines.
The federal government’s disparate treatment of various industries whose operations have resulted in the deaths of eagles or migratory birds has become an issue of late. While an oil well driller was indicted for killing a single bird, owners wind turbines have been untouched.
This past week the Interior Department gave the go-ahead for a second utility-scale wind farm on public land in Nevada. This one is east of Searchlight, near Lake Mohave, home to bald and golden eagles.
Meanwhile, a bill has been introduced in the state Legislature to increase the percent of electricity that must come from renewable generation by 2025 from 25 percent to 35 percent — with no regard for cost or consequence.
This video is from 2007: