Over the past decade, wind turbines and transmission lines have led to the deaths or injuries of 321 endangered eagles in Tasmania, according to a study.
More cases are believed to be unreported due to a lack of systemic research on wind farms and public information.
It found that from 2010-2022, wind farms caused the deaths of 268 eagles and injured 53, with state-owned power company TasNetworks reporting 139 deaths, and eagle rescuers witnessing 91 deaths and 50 injuries.
Study author Gregory Pullen said the number of eagle deaths was a “stark reminder” that an urgent solution was needed to mitigate further harm to the vulnerable species.
“The real number can only be higher since surveying at wind farms is incomplete,” Mr. Pullen noted in the study.
“Specifically, it is only close to turbines, is periodic, and does not involve all turbines or all habitat around each turbine, scrub often being excluded.”
Future of Birds UnclearBoth species could face further risk as the expansion of wind turbine construction continues amid the federal government’s net-zero push.
“Accelerated deaths of the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle and white-bellied sea-eagle are a grim reality if thousands of new wind turbines and hundreds of kilometres of transmission lines are erected across Tasmania to meet a legislated doubling of renewable energy production by 2040,” Mr. Pullen said.
The study estimated that less than 1,000 Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles remain and emphasised ongoing monitoring to ensure the species does not become extinct.
It includes observing the number of eagles, stability of breeding pairs, nesting success and surviving chicks, presence of juvenile birds, and whether disruption to the natural habitat causes dislocation.
For instance, despite great differences in eagle densities across Tasmania, there are currently no designated "no turbine zones."
Some researchers have suggested Tasmanian eagles be fitted with GPS trackers, but the concept has been slow to establish and has yet to be used in wind farm planning.
The study comes as Tasmanian authorities continue their push towards net zero, recently inking a deal with the German city Bremen.
State Energy Minister Guy Barnett said the collaboration was evidence of the state's plan to become a leader in large-scale green hydrogen production by 2030 to meet both domestic and international demand.
“This joint declaration demonstrates the opportunity the rest of the world sees in Tasmania and confidence in the government’s renewable energy agenda,” Mr. Barnett said in a statement on Sept. 17.
Scientist Questions Wind Power ReliabilityThere are concerns, however, over the viability of large-scale renewable energy generation.
Professor Emeritus Wade Allison made the assertion in response to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the “instinctive reaction” around the world was to embrace renewables.
“Today, modern technology is deployed to harvest these weak sources of energy. Vast ‘farms’ that monopolise the natural environment are built, to the detriment of other creatures,” Mr. Allison said in the report, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
“Developments are made regardless of the damage wrought. Hydro-electric schemes, enormous turbines, and square miles of solar panels are constructed, despite being unreliable and ineffective.”