Millions of bats are needlessly killed annually in the United States alone by careless operation of wind power facilities.
Wind power production poses a critical and rapidly growing threat to bats, especially in industrialized countries. The impact of exponential growth remains largely unmeasured and unreported, but available evidence is alarming. Wind production companies, widely viewed as “green,” have not lived up to their reputation, and too many conservationists have remained silent for too long. Bat researchers have worked diligently to help wind energy producers become truly green. However, only a small proportion of companies have implemented recommended actions. As Merlin reports in the following resources, it’s difficult to explain how we can know so much about cost-effective solutions yet do so little.
The public has been led to believe that bat kills are no longer a serious concern. Nevertheless, by 2014, despite widespread underreporting, 2.22 million bats were reported killed annually in the United States alone. By 2019, the U.S. wind industry grew by 52 percent. Simple extrapolation suggests 3.34 million bat kills, and the number continues to grow despite evidence of declining numbers remaining to be killed.
Merlin suggests an urgent need for public education and cooperation among responsible energy producers, and leading conservation organizations, to rank companies on a true green scale and share these rankings with energy investment advisers. This would provide industry incentives for progress beyond what has historically been achieved through poorly enforced legislation.
The following resources document the problem and possible remedies.