Growth in wind energy in North America may endanger the Hoary Bat if conservation measures are not put in place.


Growth in wind energy in North America may endanger the Hoary Bat if conservation measures are not put in place.

Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus) close-up portrait, northern Oregon. Photo by Michael Durham/Minden Pictures.

AUSTIN, TX (Sept. 15, 2021) – North America’s Hoary Bats (Lasiurus cinereus) could face rapid decline unless urgent conservation action is taken to reduce bat fatalities at wind farms in the U.S. and Canada, according to a new scientific report co-authored by Bat Conservation International’s Chief Scientist published in the journal Biological Conservation.

“Without intervention to reduce fatalities, Hoary Bats could decline by a staggering 50% by the year 2028,” says Dr. Winifred Frick, Chief Scientist for Bat Conservation International.

This report was driven by observations of bat fatalities at wind farms and mounting concerns about how those fatalities may endanger bat populations. The study sought to determine the risk to Hoary Bats of continued wind energy expansion and how industry solutions may help. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that wind energy will nearly double by 2030.

“If conservation actions are implemented broadly and rapidly, the risks of further decline and extinction may be avoided,” says Frick. “The good news is we already know how to reduce bat fatalities. What this study emphasizes is just how quickly we need to implement those solutions before it is too late. Hoary bats are found almost everywhere across the U.S. and Canada, so our findings have implications for wind projects across the continent.”

The wind industry has been a strong partner in research efforts to identify ways to reduce bat fatalities to find win-win solutions for renewable energy and protecting biodiversity.

Bat Conservation International works with the wind energy industry to determine how to reduce bat fatalities at turbines as part of clean energy solutions. One of the most promising and proven solutions in protecting bats is turbine “curtailment,” which slows down or stops turbine blades from spinning when conditions are such that colliding with a bat is likely. The best available evidence to date suggests that curtailment below five meters per second could reduce Hoary Bat fatalities by nearly half.

“Our results show that actions like turbine curtailment or other strategies that can reduce Hoary Bat fatalities can be an effective alternative to limiting growth of wind energy development,” says Dr. Nick Friedenberg, lead author of the study.

The report’s publication comes at a time when Hoary Bats begin long-distance seasonal migrations to warmer climates and are particularly vulnerable to colliding with the rotating blades of wind turbines. Why Hoary Bats seem particularly vulnerable remains an area of active investigation.

“We recognize wind energy as a critical part of the fight against climate change,” says Dr. Frick. “By working collaboratively with industry partners, we can have sustainable wind energy while protecting biodiversity.”

Bats in North America provide vital ecosystem services such as insect pest consumption. The economic value of bats to U.S. agricultural industry has been estimated in the billions annually.

About Bat Conservation International:
Founded in 1982, Bat Conservation International is a global conservation organization dedicated to ending bat extinctions. Bat Conservation International works worldwide to conserve caves, restore critical habitats in danger, and ensure the survival of the world’s bat species. For more information, visit

Media Contact: Javier Folgar
Tel: 512.327.9721 Ext. 410