Wind farms bring the Egyptian vulture to near-extinction in Andalusia
Save the Eagles International has been blowing the whistle on bird slicing wind turbines since its foundation in 2011, and I personally since 2002. Most ornithologists, affected by conflicts of interest, have been denying all along that species of rare birds could face extinction because of the installation of wind farms in their environment. New findings prove they were wrong.
In 2015, a peer-reviewed study of a population of Egyptian vultures in Southern Spain concluded: “Population viability analyses estimated an annual decline of 3–4% of the breeding population under current conditions. Our results indicate that only by combining different management actions in the breeding area, especially by removing the most important causes of human-related mortality (poisoning and collisions on wind farms), will the population grow and persist in the long term. Reinforcement with captive breeding may also have positive effects but only in combination with the reduction in causes of non-natural mortality.”
STUDY: Action on multiple fronts, illegal poisoning and wind farm planning, is required to reverse the decline of the Egyptian vulture in Southern Spain
In other words: if the causes of the decline are not removed, extinction will follow in Southern Spain. But how can we stop poisoning? Spanish authorities have had little success with the hunters and farmers who lace carcasses with poison to kill foxes and other predators. A more vigorous enforcement of existing laws is therefore necessary, and new ideas are welcome for stopping that harmful practice.
As for wind turbines, it would be relatively easy to stop the massacre: by dismantling those wind farms that kill Egyptian vultures. Dismantling entirely, because removing only the most deadly turbines will not bring the expected results: the ones next in line would then become the top killers.
Before anything, there is no excuse for installing new wind turbines in the distribution range of these birds, let alone their breeding areas. Neither is it acceptable to re-power ageing installations with new turbines. The impact of wind farms must be reduced, not maintained or increased.
At this juncture, it is important to keep in mind that raptors are attracted to wind turbines, which increases their chances of being killed.
2) – Yet the regional authorities continued authorizing new wind turbines.
In a recent article we read: “The Andalusian population of Egyptian vultures suffered a sustained decline in the last decades: half of its breeding pairs have been lost since the year 2000. They are now down to 23.”
ARTICLE in Spanish: http://agencias.abc.es/agencias/noticia.asp?noticia=2529635
TRANSLATION: Death of four Egyptian vultures alerts to the danger of wind farms near the Strait
This is a staggering decline. In the article, two local conservation groups lay the blame as follows: “the government of Andalusia has not taken any action to avoid the enormous loss of biodiversity caused by wind turbines.”
They further criticize the “ineffectiveness of the corrective and compensatory measures of these wind farms, such as on-site monitoring to slow down the turbines when birds are flying in their vicinity, and expressed doubts about official mortality figures.”
And they voice their dismay: “Andalusia continues to authorize new wind farms, and the repowering of old ones, within or near bird SPAs (Special Protection Areas), despite its explicit prohibition by European legislation.”
Last but not least, they question the validity of “studies aimed at minimizing the impact of wind farms, or the existence of “intelligent” wind turbines which would avoid the collision of birds. Such works are indeed financed by wind and electricity companies, and entrusted to entities accused of conflict of interest, such as the Migres Foundation.” (see above for the link to the article).
It’s all pretty clear: the Egyptian Vulture will soon go extinct in Andalusia because of wind farms.
Note: Andalusia is a region-state of Spain that is as large as Portugal.
3) – Alas, Andalusia is not alone.
The government of Extremadura has just authorized its first wind farm. It will be built less than 5 km from the nest of a breeding pair of Egyptian vultures, and within the range (about 15 km) of 30 more pairs of that endangered species, which nest in the nearby Monfragüe National Park.
The project will also take its toll on other protected species: black vultures, griffon vultures, black storks and 5 species of eagles, all breeding in the national park or the surrounding biosphere reserve.
In addition, the wind farm area is surrounded by roosts of red kites which migrate there every year from France, Germany and other EU countries. Five of these colonies, hosting between 500 and 800 red kites in total, lie between 4.5 and 11.5 km from the project area, which is part of their foraging grounds.
The Lesser Kestrel, a “priority species for funding under LIFE”, is also concerned: 44 – 55 pairs are breeding less than 5 km from the wind farm area, well within their range of 9 km.
OBJECTION: Objection to the Merengue project by SEO-Birdlife, the Spanish Ornithological Society (go to DOE page 43445)
There will be a massacre of these threatened species, some of them listed as “endangered” in Spain, and one worldwide (the Egyptian vulture). But as in Andalusia and many other regions of the world, decision makers don’t pay much attention to collateral damage from wind farms. They simply rubber stamp the doctored environmental impact studies provided by the promoters.
4) – Is the Egyptian vulture the only species threatened with regional extinction by wind farms?
In the study quoted in section #1 above, we read:
“These results, although obtained for a focal species, may be applicable to other endangered populations of long-lived avian scavengers inhabiting southern Europe.”
In Southern Europe, other threatened populations of long-lived avian scavengers are:
Bearded vulture (full-time scavenger – listed as “endangered” in Spain)
Black Vulture (full-time scavenger – listed as ”vulnerable” in Spain)
Spanish Imperial Eagle (part-time scavenger – listed as “endangered” in Spain)
Red Kite (part-time scavenger – listed as “endangered” in Spain)
See: https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2011-3582 (last updated 08/08/2016)
In other words, its regional extinction in Andalusia will contribute to push the species towards extinction worldwide.
5) – Conclusion.
The extinction of the Egyptian Vulture in Andalusia is not a speculation: it is ongoing. Already, the bird is extinct in one of its provinces: “the province of Malaga’s last breeding pair of rare Egyptian vultures have been found dead, making the species extinct in the province.”
See: Egyptian vultures extinct
At the last census, only 23 breeding pairs remained in Andalusia. Since then, at least four of these rare birds were killed by wind turbines – see ARTICLE in section (2) above. It is no exaggeration to say that the extinction of the species in the region is “in progress”.
President, Save the Eagles International
Related reading: Wind farms may cause extinction of Greater Prairie Chicken