|Bats can confuse wind turbines with trees |
(U.S. Geological Survey photo by Paul Cryan)
The researchers "found that environmental impact assessments—the main tool used to predict the ecological effects of a new energy development—commonly failed to predict the number of bats that would have fatal collisions with wind turbines’ spinning blades," Brady Dennis reports for The Washington Post. "Even in the few cases where researchers said early assessments accurately predicted the danger to bats, efforts to mitigate those risks often did not succeed."
Researchers "compared their findings from each site to the environmental assessments they were able to access," Dennis writes. "In most cases, the pre-construction assessments had not accurately predicted the risk of bat fatalities. And even where companies had put in place mitigation measures to try to steer bats clear of the turbines, the researchers found that bats were still killed. Researchers say it is uncertain whether the acoustic surveys widely used to estimate bat activity are not precise enough or whether bats’ 'highly variable' activity means they change their patterns too often to predict with accuracy."