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Can prairie grouse and wind generators co-exist?

The problem of “balancing wildlife conservation and decarbonization of the electrical energy sector” has come to the grasslands and shrub-steppe of North America, based on findings printed within the July 2022 situation of the Wildlife Society Bulletin.

Renewable Power Wildlife Institute’s John Lloyd and his colleagues discovered that, within the short-term, prairie grouse (Sharp-tailed Grouse, Larger Sage-Grouse, Larger Prairie-Hen, and Lesser Prairie-Hen) “grownup survival and nest success seem largely unaffected in populations uncovered to wind-energy amenities.”

Primarily based on an overlap between the estimated vary of every species and the placement of wind generators within the U.S., some 17% of working generators are within the vary of one of many 4 species. Sharp-tailed Grouse, with essentially the most intensive vary, are close to the best variety of generators: 5,004. Larger Sage-Grouse and Larger Prairie-Hen had fewer generators of their geographic ranges (2,399 and a couple of,987, respectively), with Lesser Prairie-Hen vary overlapping with 1,040 wind generators.

“Prairie grouse are susceptible to collisions with fences and powerlines, and in some instances, collisions could also be an necessary supply of annual mortality,” the researchers report. Dangers from turbine blades or towers didn’t look like widespread, nevertheless. In 230 monitoring research carried out between 2000 and 2017 at 130 wind-energy amenities within the U.S., 4 sage-grouse, two Sharp-tails, and one Larger Prairie-Hen might have been victims of run-ins with wind generators or towers.

Larger Prairie-Chickens at leks nearer to wind generators in Nebraska, nevertheless, had modifications in vocalizations that could be associated to noise produced by the generators or to roads constructed to service them. “Noise related to wind-energy infrastructure would possibly masks vocalizations that appeal to females to leks, doubtlessly resulting in lek abandonment,” Lloyd and his co-authors write.

In some instances, prairie grouse seem to keep away from areas round wind-energy infrastructure totally. In others, “no proof of avoidance or displacement was discovered,” the researchers report. “When it occurred, avoidance of habitat close to wind-energy infrastructure was most obvious amongst males attending leks and amongst females throughout the breeding season, particularly throughout the brood-rearing season.”

Conserving populations of prairie grouse within the face of wind-energy growth, based on Lloyd and co-authors, “would require a coordinated effort to hyperlink analysis, monitoring and administration that treats each new wind-energy growth as a possibility to refine mitigation approaches.”

In the hunt for the Sharp-tailed Grouse

This text seems within the March/April 2023 situation of BirdWatching journal. Subscribe

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