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Bear Mountain wind turbines killing endangered bats

An article in the Vancouver Sun this morning reports that endangered bats are being killed by the wind turbines near Dawson Creek. According to B.C. Environmental Assessment Office documents, an estimated 156 bats and 82 birds were killed by AltaGas' wind turbines on Bear Mountain in 2010.

In total there are 34 turbines with 40 metre blades, which began operation in 2009. That works out to be an average of 4.57 bats and 2.41 birds per turbine.

Apparently more than 40 per cent of those bats were either northern myotis or little brown myotis species, which have both been assessed as endangered. While saying he didn't want to split hairs, AltaGas spokesman Neil Mackie is quoted by the Sun as noting the two bat species are not technically endangered, because the federal government has yet to formally endorse the committee’s recommendations.

Mackie adds the recommendation to list the bats as endangered was not because of the wind turbine deaths, but because a deadly European fungal disease called white-nose syndrome, which is spreading westward across North America. An estimated six million bats have died from the disease on the continent, which is expected to reach B.C. in a few years.

An assessment of the Dawson Creek turbines by environmental consultants determined their impact to be "non-significant, low to moderate", but that could change once more is known about bat population levels in northeast B.C.

The Dokie Wind Energy Project near Chetwynd estimated its 48 turbines killed 162 birds and 61 bats in 2011, which works out to be 3.38 birds and 1.27 bats per turbine.

To read the full article by the Vancouver Sun, click here.

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