SEO/BirdLife denounces the death of a red kite in a wind farm in La Muela (Zaragoza, north of Spain)
- This red kite had a GPS-GSM transmitter and was tagged within the LIFE Eurokite project, a cross-border project for the conservation of the red kite in Europe
- SEO/BirdLife notified the Government of Aragon to collect the body, which was found split in two due to the brutal collision with the wind turbine blades
- The red kite is "in danger of extinction" in Spain and the Government of Aragon has pending to approve a conservation plan for the species
Zaragoza, 16/03/2021. The main aim of the LIFE Eurokite project is to know the causes of mortality of the red kite throughout Europe, and in cases of death due to human reasons, to be able to apply the necessary measures to correct them.
To meet this ambitious goal, red kites are being tagged with GPS in different European countries (including Spain), with which it is possible to follow their movements on a daily basis and detect in real time the causes of mortality of the tagged birds. Thanks to this, actions can be taken to combat the main causes of anthropogenic mortality, such as poisonings, impacts with wind farms, power lines and power poles, or collisions with road and rail traffic.
Kite death by collision in a wind farm
Thanks to the fact that this red kite carried a GPS-GSM device, it was possible to detect that it had died, and to activate the Mortality Protocol established in the LIFE Eurokite project, in order to recover the transmitter and the bird's carcass, and to know the cause of its death. SEO/BirdLife gave notice to the authorities and the Nature Protection Agents (APN) found the bird split in two when it collided with the blades of the wind turbine, with which they drew up minutes to be able to report this death from unnatural causes.
With this case of death by collision detected in the wind farms of La Muela (Zaragoza, north of Spain), SEO/BirdLife initiates a procedure to solve these types of incidents that endanger endangered species. “This is a clear example of the LIFE Eurokite procedure to find out the causes of mortality of the red kite throughout Europe, to be able to apply the necessary measures to combat the causes of mortality due to humans, and to effectively conserve this endangered species”, emphasizes Ana Bermejo, coordinator of LIFE Eurokite in SEO/BirdLife. This winter, in addition, two more red kites tagged in the same project have died in Spain due to collisions with wind turbines: in Soria and Zamora.
SEO/BirdLife has requested a meeting with the Directorate General for Energy, the body responsible for solving this type of collision and death of endangered species in energy use, for which no response has been obtained so far. Likewise, SEO/BirdLife will denounce the specific fact, as it is doing with all the individuals of dead birds located under the wind turbines. Finally, it is planned to request a meeting with the promoter and owner to initiate a solution in this regard that eliminates the risk of death for the birds.
Looking for solutions
The possible solutions once a case of death by collision has been detected are several and staggered:
- Certify if the promoter and owner, the DG of Energy or the APNs, carry out a follow-up of this specific wind famr and if not, that it is put into operation immediately.
- Determine a temporary shutdown of the wind turbine that caused the death of the red kite during autumn-winter, when the red kites from all over Europe are present that winter in the Iberian Peninsula.
- If the problem persists (after starting the monitoring) and individuals flying with a high risk of collision are detected or new occasions of deaths are detected, it is understood that it is not a specific problem and other options should be considered, such as installation of a mechanism that detects the arrival of specimens in flight and stops the movement of the wind turbine blades, continuing once the system detects that the bird has left.
Of course, the elimination of the wind turbine or turbines responsible for the deaths and/or the translocation of the wind turbine(s) must be considered.
Wind farms are a long-awaited renewable energy compared to fossil fuels that increase the effects of climate change, or nuclear energy, but they are not exempt from environmental risks that must be eliminated, using the technology at our disposal or those environmental measures that are necessary, above all a correct planning of renewable energy and an excellent environmental impact assessment.
Deaths due to collision usually occur in erroneously authorized or incorrectly evaluated wind farms, since prior quality fauna studies have not been carried out, the risks of collision with each wind turbine have not been calculated, or they have not been taken into account other environmental issues. "The simplification of the procedures will inevitably produce many more errors in the authorization of new wind farms, which will affect the profitability of the project in the future and the effect on nature," says Luis Tirado, SEO/BirdLife delegate in Aragon.
LIFE EUROKITE project
In order to conserve the red kite across Europe, this cross-border conservation project for the red kite and other threatened raptors in Europe began in 2020. This project will be carried out over the next seven years in 26 European countries, in which nearly 1,000 GPS-tagged red kites will be monitoring daily. It is coordinated by the Austrian organization MEGEG (Mitteleuropäische Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung der Greifvögel, Central European Society for the Protection of Raptors) and SEO/BirdLife is one of the beneficiary partners in Spain.