Wind Turbines Cause Dark Nights for Bats

Wildlife News

The big knock on wind turbines has been that they’re dangerous to birds. But researchers have found that they actually kill more bats, and the reason why has been a mystery–until now.

With their amazing flying and hunting abilities, bats are major predators of insect pests. But surprising numbers of bats are being killed at wind energy sites. Biologist Erin Baerwald just couldn’t believe that these adept, radar-equipped flyers were simply flying into the blades. Now her research has proven her right.

“We always correct that way of thinking, saying, ‘No, no, the turbines are colliding with the bats,’” Baerwald says. “But this has really changed the way we think about it, in that the bats aren’t colliding with the turbines, the turbines aren’t colliding with the bats. It’s actually an undetectable hazard.”

Baerwald, a PhD student at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, working in the lab of Robert Barclay, discovered that undetectable hazard by collecting freshly killed bats around wind turbines over periods of several weeks. She and her colleagues were surprised that most had no external injuries.

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