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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Protecting Birds And Bats On Wind Farms

Chris M / http://www.flickr.com/photos/79666107@N00/1296634467/

Do you have any ideas about protecting birds and bats from wind turbines in Illinois, Wisconsin and six other Midwestern states?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input as it works with the states to develop a plan for habitat conservation while promoting clean energy.

Some species of bats are particularly vulnerable to striking turbines at wind energy facilities. Fish and Wildlife representative Georgia Parham says one solution may be for wind energy companies to change how they operate turbines.

"Measures might be taken to vary wind speeds, or speeds at which the turbines begin to spin based on whether bats are present or whether they are migrating in that part of the year, or whatever,” she told Wisconsin Public Radio. “But it also may include siting considerations for wind energy projects that haven't yet been built.''

The purpose of the plan is to develop conservation measures to minimize adverse effects.

The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to “take” – harm, harass or kill – animals on the Endangered Species List; therefore a permit is needed if take is expected to happen.

The incidental take permit(s) will cover participating wind energy facilities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. All or portions of the eight states could be included in the plan.

Federally endangered species that could be affectedby wind energy facilities include the Indiana bat, gray bat, piping plover, interior least tern and Kirtland’s warbler. This plan also could include species that may become endangered or threatened in the future, such as the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat and eastern small-footed bat. The bald eagle, which is no longer endangered but remains protected, may also be included. The final list has notto be determined.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting public commentforthe planning and permitting processes, interaction of wind facilities and species, and scientific data that may be beneficial. For contact information, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website. Deadline for receiving comments is Oct.1.