Nevada wind farm faces fine for killing golden eagle

Wind generators are seen at the Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater wind farm in Warrnambool, Australia, on May 4, 2012.
Credit: Mark Dadswell

A Nevada wind farm could be fined $200,000 after a golden eagle was found dead at its 7,500 acre location, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

The dead eagle, one of a species that is protected by federal law, was discovered in late February at the Spring Valley Wind Farm in Ely, Nev., 350 miles east of Reno, the Associated Press reported.

“This incident is unfortunate and is the one eagle incident since the start of operations on August 8,” Mike Garland, CEO of San Francisco-based wind-farm owner Pattern Energy, said, according to the Ely (Nev.) Daily Times.

While Pattern Energy gave the dead eagle to federal officials within 36 hours of its discovery as required by law, it does not hold a federal “take” permit that allows for the accidental death of a golden or bald eagle, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

A “take” permit is not required to operate, but without it, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s office of law enforcement will investigate an eagle death and possibly issue a fine, the Ely Daily Times reported.

“They don’t have an eagle take permit, then it’s illegal, and that’s why the incident is under investigation,” Nevada Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Jeannie Stafford told the Ely Daily Times.

The $225 million facility is the first utility-scale wind farm to be located on US federal land, the AP reported.

While the farm was being built, environmental groups raised concerns about birds and bats dying in collisions with the farm’s 66 400-foot turbines and accused the US Bureau of Land Management of lax oversight of the project, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

In response, Pattern Energy agreed to pay for a bat migration study and increase tracking of bird and bat deaths.

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