The Winds of Change Bring Peril for Bats – Defenders of Wildlife Blog


Defenders of Wildlife Blog
14 September 2017
The Winds of Change Bring Peril for Bats
Posted by: Pasha Feinberg

Wind power is on the rise and with it is an uptick in bat deaths.

Developing renewable energy is critical to minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing climate change. Wind energy is an important source of American renewable energy and the success of this industry is crucial to our green energy future. However, like all energy types, wind energy is not without its challenges. In the early 2000s, researchers realized that wind turbines were killing bats at record rates.
A Fatal Attraction

Findings from the last decade reveal that wind turbines kill more than half a million bats each year in the United States. The overwhelming majority of the bats killed are migratory bats that are not affected by white-nose syndrome, the pathogenic fungus causing precipitous declines in hibernating bat species.

Wind turbine blades disproportionately strike these migratory bats as they pass through wind farms to forage or migrate. It’s unclear why there are so many collisions, but bats are well-known to be curious creatures and have been documented to change course to check out turbines. Although there’s no scientific consensus on why bats are attracted to turbines—theories range from mistaking turbines as trees for roosting, to seeking out insect prey that congregate near turbines—this behavior puts them at increased risk for collision with the spinning blades.
Bat Numbers Give Us Cause for Pause

As more information becomes available about the interaction of bats and wind energy production, scientists are growing increasingly concerned. Bats are long-lived mammals (many bats live more than a decade, and at least one Brandt’s bat lived for 41 years!) that reproduce slowly, meaning that bat populations are very sensitive to losses of breeding-age adults.

A recent study led by UC Santa Cruz professor Winnifred Frick, whose findings were published in Biological Conservation earlier this year, set out to identify whether mortality from wind turbines could cause bat populations to decline. Professor Frick and her colleagues focused on the bat species most commonly killed by wind turbines: the hoary bat.

Hoary-Bat-Jens-Rydell

The  hoary bat, named for its silver-tipped fur that resembles hoar frost, is a wide-ranging, migratory bat found throughout the United States, into Mexico and Canada. Hoary bats are solitary animals, spending their days roosting in trees until sunset. As it gets dark, these charismatic critters emerge to feed, foraging over great distances as they search for moths and other insects.

Unfortunately, hoary bats seem particularly susceptible to wind turbines, representing over a third (38 percent) of all bats killed at wind energy facilities. Professor Frick and her colleagues sought to determine whether the high mortality rate for hoary bats at wind facilities was sustainable.

Their results were alarming. According to the best available estimates for population size and growth rate, they projected hoary bat populations would decline by 90 percent in the next 50 years due to mortality at wind turbines. If wind energy development continues at expected rates and nothing is done to decrease bat mortality, the fate of the hoary bat will only become more dire.

Unfortunately, the hoary bat is not alone in facing such a bleak future – other migratory bat species may also be at risk. While hoary bats are the hardest hit bat species, other species of migratory bats are also frequently killed by wind turbines. Hoary bats, eastern red bats, and silver-haired bats collectively account for almost 80 percent of all bats killed at turbines. Future research is needed to determine whether there are population-level impacts to eastern red bats and silver-haired bats from wind energy.
What Can Be Done?

Fortunately, there are techniques that the wind industry can adopt so that we do not have to choose between wind energy and these important bat species. Wind industry leaders have stepped up and are proactively working with researchers and government agency staff to create technological solutions to overcome these bats’ fatal attraction to turbines. Technologies to deter bats from approaching turbines, such as playing high frequency noises, lighting the blades with ultraviolet light, using textured turbine coatings, are in development and being tested at pilot sites. We are optimistic that these technologies will be commercially available within the next five years or so, but continued funding and research are needed.

Until these technologies are available, operational changes, such as “feathering” turbine blades so that they don’t spin at low wind speeds (when bats are most active) during important migration periods, can drastically reduce bat deaths. These operational changes can be adopted immediately, but they come with a catch: they reduce the amount energy being produced from each turbine.

It’s not that wind facility operators don’t want to do the right thing–most are aware of the problem and want to minimize bat kills. However, until there is industry-wide adoption, any wind facility that does implement operational curtailment (by strategically feathering turbine blades) is at a competitive disadvantage because it would be producing less energy than a comparably-sized facility that’s not endeavoring to protect bats. In addition, some facilities are contractually obligated to produce a certain amount of energy that leaves little room for seasonal curtailment to protect bats.

If wind facilities trying to protect bats go out of business, that’s a losing scenario for both wildlife and the climate. Thus, saving these bats can’t solely rest on industry – energy consumers need to value wind operators who take measures to protect bats.

It’s a rare opportunity to be able to protect a species before it’s on the verge of extinction, but in order to do any good, we must act swiftly. Allowing hoary bat numbers to continue to decline at a precipitous rate isn’t just bad for bats, it’s bad for industry, too. Protecting bats through preventative solutions available to us now will help keep these species off the Endangered Species List, at which point options may be limited to more expensive conservation measures.
Unlike Vampires, Bats Don’t Live Forever (Plus Vampires are Fake)

Time is of the essence and we cannot afford to delay action. The wind industry, conservation organizations, academia, government, and energy users need to work together to find solutions. Defenders of Wildlife is fully committed to a strong wind energy future while conserving bats. We are working to educate corporate buyers about the importance of purchasing wind energy from responsible operators, while simultaneously advocating for federal, state, and private investment to advance and commercialize technical solutions to reduce the industry’s impacts on wildlife. Tackling this issue now is critical to securing a strong future for the wind energy industry and bats.

Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest developments concerning wildlife from Capitol Hill and other news important our work. Don’t forget to sign up for our emails where you will get all the latest news and action alerts to support wildlife.
145
Pasha Feinberg, Renewable Energy & Wildlife Research Associate
Pasha Feinberg is a research associate for the Renewable Energy and Wildlife team, providing scientific research in support of the team’s efforts to ensure that renewable energy development does not occur at the expense of wildlife. Prior to joining Defenders, Pasha earned her B.S. and M.S. in environmental science from Stanford University and conducted ecology research in Mexico, Australia, Tanzania, Kenya, and the United States to better understand the relationships between biodiversity, human health, and other ecosystem functions and services.
Categories: Bats, bats, hoary bats, Living with Wildlife, Renewable Energy, renewable energy, wind power, wind turbines

http://www.defendersblog.org/2017/09/winds-change-bring-peril-bats/

Your weekly roundup of wildlife news from across the country.
1130 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

1-800-385-9712

©2017 Defenders of Wildlife

Advertisements

Petition · Robert Niblock : HOME DEPOT AND LOWE’S STOP SELLING TORTUROUS GLUE TRAPS! · Change.org


https://www.change.org/p/robert-niblock-home-depot-and-lowe-s-stop-selling-torturous-glue-traps?source_location=petition_footer&algorithm=promoted&grid_position=1&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uAMV4ogAAAAAAWMoJoN4AwY0yZTllMmVhMQ%3D%3D

El Jefe the Jaguar Is Also Not a “Bad Hombre” | NRDC

wp-1488651134615.jpeg

El Jefe the Jaguar Is Also Not a “Bad Hombre”

Another reason to oppose President Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico: It would be devastating for wildlife.
February 15, 2017 Clara Chaisson
Just about a year ago, a YouTube sensation emerged from an unlikely place: the rugged wilderness of Arizona’s Santa Rita mountains. He made just one video, but those 41 seconds of footage—compiled from remote motion-sensor cameras—were enough to solidify his claim to fame as the only known wild jaguar living in the United States. A group of Tucson schoolkids won a nationwide naming contest, christening the big cat El Jefe, Spanish for “The Boss,” a nod to his apex predator status and Mexican heritage.

El Jefe, however, has recently become headline worthy for another reason. On January 25, our newly elected president signed an executive order calling for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border.” Now our beloved boss cat represents the threat that barrier would pose to wildlife.

President Trump’s clamorous demand to build a wall along the nearly 2,000 miles we share with Mexico has, of course, sparked a litany of objections—it’s offensive, for one, and it would be costly, ineffective, and infeasible, to name just a few more. Individuals and organizations ranging from the mayor of the border town of Laredo, Texas, to the American Civil Liberties Union to the pope have spoken out against the order. Clearly, the wall’s negative impact on wildlife is only one of many legitimate concerns, but it’s significant nonetheless.

Trump’s wall could affect anything from bighorn sheep to wolves to javelinas, but El Jefe’s story is a powerful case study. A hundred years ago, a jaguar’s stealthy presence in Arizona would have been unremarkable. In the United States, the species’ historic range included a swath from California to Texas—possibly stretching as far east as Louisiana. But by the mid-1900s, federal predator-control programs had pretty much eliminated jaguars from the country. A hunter in 1913 could collect a $5 bounty per jaguar, equivalent to about $123 today. Mexico is still home to some 4,000 individuals, including 50 to 100 in the northern state of Sonora, from where El Jefe likely hails.

Walking for just a few days, a male Sonoran jaguar can easily wander into Arizona. Conservationists haven’t given up hope that the cats might come back and restore their ranks north of the border. “The landscape really is not whole without jaguars,” says Randy Serraglio, a southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “They belong here.” After several sightings of the spotted cat, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) added it to the Endangered Species List in 1997. Hunters first spotted El Jefe in November 2011.

Female jaguars, however, don’t typically have the same level of wanderlust. El Jefe hasn’t been seen in recent months, and it’s possible that he has returned to Sonora to find a Señora El Jefe (or La Jefa?) to mate with. Because males alone can’t reestablish a breeding population—the future is female, if you will—biologists treat the possibility of a jaguar comeback on U.S. soil with varying degrees of optimism. “If there’s going to be a population recolonized in the States, then we really have to expand the population that’s south of the border,” says Howard Quigley, executive director of the jaguar program at Panthera, a big cat conservation group.

One thing is certain, however: As slim as the chance for jaguars to reestablish themselves here may be, a wall would prevent it entirely. “If somehow Trump is able to realize his fantasy of walling off the U.S.-Mexico border, it would be the end of jaguars in the United States,” Serraglio says. “They would never have a chance to recover here.”

A border wall could also be devastating to the survival of northern Mexico’s fragile jaguar population. Habitat fragmentation, development, and hunting threaten the long-term survival of the species both in Sonora and throughout its range, which extends south to northern Argentina. Throughout the Americas, an estimated 30,000 remaining wild jaguars occupy just 46 percent of their historic range.

In fact, those threats in northern Mexico were part of the reasoning behind the FWS’s decision to designate 764,207 acres of critical jaguar habitat in Arizona and New Mexico. Its 2014 rule reads, “Critical habitat in the United States contributes to the jaguar’s persistence and recovery across the species’ entire range. . .therefore, maintaining connectivity to Mexico is essential to the conservation of the jaguar.”

Trump’s great divider would hurt many other endangered species that straddle the border, too. The recovery plan for the ocelot, which has been under federal protection since 1982, includes connecting the populations in Texas and Mexico. And after rebounding from the brink of extinction, an estimated 160 Sonoran pronghorns remain in the States, with 240 or so more living in Mexico. They need to get together to make more pronghorns, the speediest land animals in North America. Our two countries have also been working together for years to recover the Mexican gray wolf, the most endangered subspecies of wolf in the world.

Many wildlife populations depend on the ability to roam, whether to find a love connection, to migrate, or to mix genes between isolated populations. Serraglio cited one particular herd of bison that crosses the border nearly every day to go between a preferred pasture on one side and a favorite watering hole on the other. “There are all kinds of reasons why animals need to move around on the landscape in order to be biologically healthy,” Serraglio says. “And all that would be disrupted by the border wall.”

Crosses adorn the Mexican side of the wall dividing Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico

Federal projects usually require an extensive environmental impact statement before they can get the green light, but there’s reason to think that the Trump administration might skip that step. Before signing the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which allowed the United States to build 700 miles’ worth of barriers along the Mexican border, then-President George W. Bush enacted the REAL ID Act. Section 102 of that legislation allows the secretary of homeland security to waive all local, state, and federal laws deemed an impediment to construction along U.S. borders. The former secretary, Michael Chertoff, subsequently used it to override the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections.
As a result of these waivers, the existing walls have impinged on communities that don’t want them and triggered environmental problems experts could have foreseen—if they had been consulted. The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, one of the most biologically diverse areas in the country, is now home to two miles of border fencing in addition to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles. According to the Sierra Club, in addition to blocking wildlife, construction there desecrated 69 Native American burial sites and accelerated erosion and sedimentation in the riverbed.

Even winged animals could feel the effects of fragmentation. A 2009 study found that the ferruginous pygmy owl, which got off the FWS Endangered Species List only 11 years ago, rarely flies higher than 4.5 feet off the ground; the average height of the fencing now bisecting its habitat is 13 feet.

“One of the big issues in wildlife conservation is to prevent fragmentation,” Panthera’s Quigley says. “As soon as you start fragmenting populations—whether it’s with a road, or with a huge plantation of oil palm, or whatever it is—then you start seeing the demise of not only that species, but the system and its multiple interactions.”

A month after the election, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and FWS announced that a trail camera in the Huachuca Mountains had snapped a shot of what seems to be a second male jaguar on U.S. soil. With such uncanny timing, it’s almost as if this big cat showed up to remind the president-elect that he’s not the only new boss in town.

wp-1488651332450.jpegAt Fort Huachuca trail camera recently captured a photograph of a jaguar

© Natural Resources Defense Council 2017 Privacy Policy State Disclosures

Petition: Free Packy the Elephant From 54 years of Captivity in The Oregon Zoo!


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/657/820/269/demand-packy-be-freed-from-54-yrs.of-captivity-in-the-oregon-zoo-she-needs-a-sanctuary-/

Washington wolf activities go beyond Profanity Peak pack – – Capital Press


The West’s AG Weekly Since 1928 • September 28, 2016

Washington wildlife managers say they are continuing to search for the surviving members of the Profanity Peak pack in the Colville National Forest, a hunt now on its eighth week.
Meanwhile, wolves in another northeastern Washington pack last week killed a calf, and a wolf was legally harvested on the Spokane Tribe of Indians reservation, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

WDFW’s plan to lethally remove the Profanity Peak pack has outraged some environmental and animal-rights groups, overshadowing other wolf activities in Washington this summer.

WDFW began hunting for the Profanity Peak pack on Aug. 4. The department has reported shooting five adults and one pup, though none since Aug. 22.

Two adults and up to four pups remain, according to WDFW. The department says it intends to eliminate the rest of the pack, but the pack is in rugged timberlands and finding the surviving wolves will be challenging.

WDFW has confirmed that the pack has killed or injured eight cattle and probably is responsible for five more attacks on livestock this summer.

WDFW’s policy calls for the state to use lethal control after four confirmed depredations, provided ranchers had taken steps to prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock.

WDFW investigators confirmed Sept. 21 that wolves in the Smackout pack, whose territory straddles Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, killed a calf, the department’s wolf policy coordinator, Donny Martorello, said in an email.

The depredation was the first confirmed attack by the pack this year. The pack fatally injured a calf in October 2015, according to WDFW records.

Also Sept. 21, the Spokane Tribe of Indians reported a wolf had been harvested on the reservation. The tribe also reported in July that a wolf had been harvested.

The tribe allows enrolled members to hunt wolves within the 159,000-acre reservation, with an annual limit of six wolves.

The Spokane tribe reported in 2015 harvesting three wolves in the Huckleberry pack, the only legal shooting of wolves in the state last year, according to WDFW.

Hunting wolves is not allowed in Washington except on tribal lands.

WDFW enlisted the USDA’s Wildlife Services to shoot one wolf from the Huckleberry pack in 2014. The pack was preying on sheep.

Since then, a federal judge has barred Wildlife Services from assisting WDFW with lethal removal, unless the federal agency conducts a more thorough review of the environmental impacts of removing wolves.

Wolves are not federally protected in the eastern one-third of Washington, where attacks on livestock are occurring, but are on the state’s protected species list.

Petition: Help Free Lasah The Elephant In Malaysia


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/857/496/486/help-free-lasah-the-elephant-in-malaysia/