US Wind Turbines Kill Over 600,000 Bats A Year (And Plenty Of Birds Too)

By Josh Lieberman on November 8, 2013 12:06 AM EST

wind turbine
Wind turbines killed at least 600,000 bats in the United States in 2012, according to University of Colorado researcher Mark Hayes. (Photo: Reuters)

Wind turbines killed hundreds of thousands of bats in 2012 in the United States, according to an article by Mark Hayes of the University of Colorado. Hayes took the number of dead bats from 21 wind turbine locations and inferred the number of nationwide bat deaths, arriving at the conservative estimate of 600,000 bats killed in 2012. But the real toll, Hayes notes, may be as high as 900,000.   

Like Us on Facebook

Bats are killed by collisions with wind turbine blades or from air pressure changes caused by the blades, the latter being the real danger. Similar to the bends in scuba divers, barotrauma causes bats to pop from the inside.

"There are bats with no broken bones or other evidence of blunt trauma, that have pulmonary and middle ear hemorrhages which implies that they had suffered barotrauma," Melissa Behr, a vet at the University of Wisconsin told the Telegraph in September (Behr wasn't involved in Hayes's research). "In one case 46 percent of the bats that were seen had no physical sign of trauma, but 100 percent had pulmonary hemorrhage."

Because bat populations are also under threat from climate change and white-nose syndrome (a fungal infection that has killed millions of bats since 2007), and because most bats only give birth to one young per year, Hayes says the addition of wind turbines to the bat-killing mix is worrisome. Although few people have a love for bats, they're the primary consumers of insects in some regions. Bats are particularly beneficial to farmers, who spend billions of dollars a year on insect suppression services, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Fewer bats means more insects and higher pest-control bills. 

It isn't just bats wind turbines are killing in large numbers. In a study published earlier this year in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, author K. Shawn Smallwood estimated that 573,000 birds were killed by U.S. wind turbines (as well as 888,000 bats). In another 2013 study, published in the Journal of Raptor Research, biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that wind turbines have killed 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years.    

Hayes's article, titled "Bats Killed in Large Numbers at United States Wind Energy Facilities," was published in the latest issue of BioScience.

READ MORE:

Duke Scientists Train Monkeys To Move Virtual Simian Arms-Using Only Their Minds

'Godzilla' Platypus Once Roamed Australia, Surprised Scientists Find

Asian Carp In Great Lakes: Local Fishermen Not Pleased With Increased Breeding

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)