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.
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. This is according to a new scientific report co-authored by Bat Conservation International’s Chief Scientist published in the journal Biological Conservation this month.
Hoary Bats are beautiful bats with long, white-tipped fur that gives them a frosted, hoary appearance – thus, their name. They live throughout most of North America, yet you’re not likely to see them. They stay well-hidden in foliage throughout the day and are solitary for most of the year except when they migrate.
Seasonally, Hoary Bats migrate long distances in North America, traveling during fall and spring seasons to new habitats. Tragically, particularly during migration, it’s not uncommon to find the carcasses of Hoary Bats beneath wind turbines. Here are three things you should know:
- Without intervention to reduce fatalities, Hoary Bats could decline by a staggering 50% by the year 2028. Hoary Bats are particularly vulnerable to colliding with the rotating blades of wind turbines.
- Wind energy developments are expected to nearly double by 2030. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that wind energy will nearly double by 2030. By working collaboratively with industry partners, we can have sustainable wind energy while protecting biodiversity.
- There are solutions. Bat Conservation International and the wind industry have been working together to successfully test and prove methods of reducing bat fatalities. One of the most promising and proven solutions slows down or stops the rotation of turbine blades during narrow windows of time, such as at night during fall migration and under low wind conditions when energy production is lessened.
Bats in North America provide vital ecosystem services such as insect pest consumption. The economic value of bats to U.S. agriculture has been estimated in the billions annually. Expansive wind energy development and bat conservation can be achieved with science-based conservation action. But it’s important we act now.