Mortality of Eagles and Consequences of Turbines

Last March, a California wind farm, known for killing a host of other birds, garnered federal attention after an eagle was found mangled at the foot of a turbine. According to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940, American eagles may not  be pursued, shot, shot at, poisoned, wounded, killed, captured, trapped, collected, molested, or disturbed by anyone within the United States. Ultimately, the death of any eagle by human interference is a federal crime, punishable by up to $250,000 or two years in prison.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) opened an investigation against the California wind farm and quickly drafted an Eagle Conservation Plan Guide by April, focused almost entirely on the new challenges of balancing renewable wind energy with existing wildlife in the sky. However, once the Associated Press got wind of the story (pardon the pun), the collective media vacuum was off to the races, accusing the Obama Administration of an awful double standard. Even Stephen Colbert got in on the action.

Though an investigation was underway, both in California and elsewhere, critics were understandably concerned that eagles and other birds, including the rare and exotic, were simply becoming the acceptable casualties of a domesticated energy independence plan.

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