As concerns over environmental impacts of fossil fuels grow, wind energy is increasingly popular. However, large numbers of bats are killed at wind energy facilities and this raises concerns about cumulative impacts on bat populations. An estimated 840,000 to 1.7 million bats have been killed in the U.S. and Canada from 2000-2011, and this increases by over 500,000 fatalities annually, 78% of which are of three species of migratory tree-roosting bats: hoary bats, eastern red bats, and silver-haired bats. Given these estimates, and growth of the wind energy sector, there are worries that fatalities may threaten the population viability of these species. Population modelling derived from expert elicitation suggests that current fatality levels could cause a 91% decrease in the continental population size of hoary bats within 50 years. We examined how acoustic detections, capture rates, rabies submission rates, and wind-energy related fatality rates of migratory tree-roosting bats change through time to look for evidence of recent population declines. If all these metrics consistently show declines, then this may indicate declines in population sizes. If population are declining, can we mitigate by building future wind energy facilities in places with lower fatality risk for bats? We examined landscape features associated with variations in bat fatality rates and present commonalities and differences and make suggestions for future facilities.
The Natural Resources & Environmental Studies Institute (NRESi) at UNBC hosts a weekly lecture series at the Prince George campus. Anyone from the university or wider community with interest in the topic area is welcome to attend. Presentations are also made available to remote participants through Livestream (Channel 1). Go to http://www.unbc.ca/nres-institute/colloquium-webcasts to view the presentation remotely.
Past NRESi colloquium presentations and special lectures can be viewed on our video archive, available here.