Saturday, September 26, 2009

Projects Addressing Raptor Mortality

Will Weber, a member of the Hawk Migration Association of North America’s Conservation and Education Committee and past chair of HMANA’s board of directors, has initiated a new feature in Hawk Migration Studies, HMANA’s journal.

In his first article “Non-natural Raptor Mortality and a Call for Help” (HMS: xxxiv, no. 2, Spring 2009), Will summarizes the mortality factors the series plans to review and invites contributions from the journal’s readership regarding human-induced threats to raptor populations. Comments posted on “Hawk Migration Notes” directed toward preventable human-induced threats to raptors and how these threats could be addressed are one way you can answer Will’s call for help. Look for another article from Will on non-natural mortality in the recently released Fall 2009 issue of HMS.

In my last posting to “Hawk Migration Notes,” I mentioned that HMANA’s Conservation and Education committee has been particularly concerned about wind power as a source of raptor mortality. The National Wind Coordinating Committee, a consortium of wind industry representatives, environmental and consumer groups, governmental agencies and others, has acknowledged that raptors are especially vulnerable to the risks posed by wind turbines: “Compared with other avian species studied to date throughout the United States, some species such as raptors (including hawks, golden eagles, falcons and owls) appear to be at higher risk relative to their occurrence of collisions with wind turbines” (Wind Turbine Interactions with Birds and Bats: A Summary of Research Results and Remaining Questions: NWCC 2004).

HMANA’s Conservation and Education Committee is following two initiatives that are working to improve our understanding of the risk posed by wind turbines to birds, and especially raptors. The Nature Conservancy, after creating maps in Kansas, Colorado, Montana and Oklahoma that superimpose sensitive wildlife areas and areas rich in wind resources, will be expanding this mapping project to include the entire country. The project should provide developers and permitting agencies with a clear indication of which areas are appropriate for wind development and which areas should be avoided.

Another promising effort is being undertaken by a coalition of the American Bird Conservancy, the American Wind Wildlife Institute, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread. This coalition will be developing tools and methodologies that will help in making appropriate siting decisions and improve our ability to protect important avian resources.

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