Wyoming Studies Show Pronghorn Avoid Wind Turbines
Wind power, it turns out, is not all that the claims make it out to be.
In past articles, I've pointed out the horrors of mining for rare earth minerals, the toxic process of extracting those minerals, and the toxic process of disposing of them.
Then there is the problem of the number of birds killed by wind turbines every year.
Because the wind does not always blow, and these turbines can't turn when it's too hot, or too cold, or the wind is blowing too fast, wind power is proving to be an unreliable source of energy.
Not clean, or green. Not sustainable or reliable. Without the subsidies, not affordable.
I've been wondering for some time, do wind farms affect the migration of land animals?
It turns out, yes they do.
Wyoming studies show pronghorn avoid wind turbines
Credit: Christine Peterson, for Lee Newspapers | Montana Standard | January 27, 2021, | mtstandard.com ~~
University of Wyoming professor Jeffrey Beck and others began just such a study back in 2010. Their starting point was one of the world’s largest pronghorn herds living near wind turbines in Shirley Basin northwest of Laramie. They published their study in 2020. It showed that pronghorn did not, in fact, like being around wind turbines in winter.
This was not the only study. In 2018, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit at the University of Wyoming and Invenergy, then PacifiCorp, paid for a six-year study looking more in-depth at the question. Their conclusion echoes the first study.
First, wind turbines do displace pronghorn, which in return lose valuable food, especially in winter months.
Second, and maybe even more importantly, more than a decade of animal tracking data shows it’s possible to site wind turbines in places that have less of an effect on Wyoming’s speedgoats in a way that still allows for wind development.
“We know there is a negative effect, and we would fully expect that to translate that animals don’t eat as much, they don’t put on as much fat, they don’t survive the winter as well and have as many young, all of those are logical,” Kauffman said. “But our methods end up being somewhat crude when we try to connect that to reduced survival or population growth. They’re small incremental changes. And that’s one of the challenges we’re trying to overcome in a six-year study.”
Reading deeper into the story it is not surprising that it is not just pronghorn that are affected. Mule deer in the area dropped by 36% as oil and gas fields developed.
“Our results indicate behavioral effects of energy development on mule deer are long term and may affect population abundance by displacing animals and thereby functionally reducing the amount of available habitat,” the study read.