Telemetry Project Red Kite – LIFE EUROKITE
Berlin. On February 16th 2023, a cooperation between LIFE EUROKITE and the BWE (Bundesverband WindEnergie - Federal Wind Energy Association) was signed, which is intended to ensure that the topic surrounding the discussion of wind energy and species protection is objectively discussed on a scientific basis.
Numerous species become extinct every year due to human-caused global warming. On this background, it is necessary to convert electrical energy generation CO2 neutral quickly and completely. When planning wind farm projects, species protection concerns must be weighed up in the overall ecological context, taking into account the principles of proportionality and equal treatment. Extensive data collection is required for a sufficiently precise representation of the overall context. This is to be done in the LIFE EUROKITE project, exemplarily for the red kite, based on a large sample size in a scientifically manner. The results are published independently and without prejudging the outcome in high-ranking scientific journals.
Red kite near a wind farm. © Franz Josef Kovacs
LIFE EUROKITE (LIFE18 NAT/AT/000048) is a transboundary red kite conservation project in Europe to reduce human-caused mortality. Within LIFE EUROKITE, the anthropogenic causes of mortality will be investigated with the help of telemetry data. As part of the project, measures are identified and partially implemented to reduce anthropogenic mortality.
So far (January 2023) 855 red kites have been tagged within the project and an additional 136 data from already tagged red kites have been purchased. Data from more than 2,200 tagged red is currently available through data exchange with partners and cooperation partners of the project. This data set is unique in the world in terms of scope and accuracy! Breeding birds from Germany make up a significant proportion of this sample, which enables an evaluation of country-specific issues that goes far beyond all previous analyses.
Number of different red kite individuals with telemetry points in a 10 x 10 km grid from 2013 to 2023 in Europe (excluding UK). A total of 1,198 individuals in France, 1,398 in Spain, 969 in Germany and 291 individuals in Austria have been documented so far. © LIFE EUROKITE
With this database there is the opportunity to make a timely and well-founded contribution to the classification of red kite collisions with wind turbines in the overall context. The following aspects will be covered:
- Creation of a general protocol for the evaluation of causes of mortality (methodical approach)
- Causes of red kite mortality
- Risk of collision in the vicinity of red kite nests (nests relation)
- Characteristics of the flight behavior of red kites in wind farms (avoidance behavior)
So far (January 2023), 897 tagged red kites have died (transmitter failure are not included). 128 tagged red kites died from poisoning and 38 from illegal shooting. 733 tagged red kites died from other anthropogenic and natural causes such as predation, collision, electrocution or disease. Since the pathological examinations usually take several months, it is not yet possible to make a definitive assessment of the cause of death for all birds.
Most birds were tagged as chicks in the nest. As a result, losses in the nest (mainly predation) are also taken into account, which occur disproportionately often compared to the other causes of mortality. The distribution of causes of mortality may differ per country.
Interim results of the dead finds of the 897 deceased and tagged red kites in the years 2013 to 2023 across Europe. © LIFE EUROKITE
The comparatively extensive database of the LIFE EUROKITE project offers a solid basis for statistical analyses and enables a scientific evaluation that was previously not possible. Bases for the discussion and for decisions are provided, which form the basis for high-ranking scientific publications. These publications are currently being prepared in cooperation with internationally renowned scientists and the involvement of external quality assurance in order to further secure the previous success of bird protection and thus establish compatibility with climate protection goals.
In addition to the MEGEG as the coordinating partner, the 18 partners of the project, 16 co-financiers and over 50 cooperation partners consisting of NGOs, network operators, (regional) authorities, universities, ministries, energy producers and planning offices, a number of companies support the implementation of the project in relation to the data exchange, the expansion of the database through tagging of red kites and the development of scientific publications.