Large wind turbines are becoming a common site on the vast Prairie landscape. And why not?
Large wind turbines are becoming a common site on the vast Prairie landscape. And why not? There’s plenty of available wind to keep these sustainable energy sources whirling. But the spinning blades are also killing an important part of our ecosystem. A University of Regina student is trying to alter that current.
“Large numbers of bat fatalities have been recorded at wind energy facilities around the world, especially of migratory tree-roosting bats during autumn migration,” explains Erin Swerdfeger, a biology master’s student. “They are killed either by the blades themselves, or from damage to their bodies caused by the low pressure created by the oscillating blades.”
Unlike with birds, scientists don’t yet know the movement patterns for migratory bats in southern Saskatchewan. That's what Swerdfeger’s research is trying to determine.
“Of the bats killed by wind energy facilities, 80 per cent are migratory," explains Swerdfeger, who is supervised by bat expert and biology professor Mark Brigham and his post-doctoral student Erin Baerwald. “And a recent study estimated that hoary bat populations, which is one of the species I’m studying, could decline by up to 90 per cent in the next 50 years if this trend continues.”
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Image via University of Regina.