“How do you report that birds are taken, are you counting them, and are they reporting them?” Kasperik asked.
“The short answer is, no,” Abbott said.
“Pretty much with all the projects out there, unless the company that is running that operation is going out there and conducting surveys of their own, there are no data being collected in terms of the number of migratory birds being taken.”
Eagle Take Permit Considered at Hearing
A new federal regulation that would give the wind industry 30-year permits for unintentional eagle deaths was the topic of a recent legislative committee hearing in Casper.
The issue centers on a 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife decision that increased the length of eagle take permits from the current five years to 30, but only for wind energy projects and related infrastructure, such as transmission facilities.
A federal judge in California struck down the rule in 2014, shortly after it was issued, after conservation groups challenged it on environmental grounds. This past February the federal government decided it was not going to appeal the court’s decision.
Tyler Abbott, a deputy field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wyoming Ecological Services, told the Select Federal Natural Resources Management Committee that a new rule was emerging as a result of those actions.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service … is in the process of developing some definitions, some draft regulations and an environmental impact statement that could potentially lead to the authorization of an incidental take permit in the future, but right now it’s in development, and it’s not active legally,” Abbott said.
The proposed new rule would continue to allow 30-year permits for wind energy, but it now also includes a review every five years, bringing it somewhat in line with present permit length. The rule also has stipulations that companies seeking eagle take permits work collaboratively with Fish and Wildlife on a bird protection plan.