More than 600,000 bats were killed in the United States last year by wind turbines, according to a new estimate.
The figure, based on a statistical analysis of rates of dead bats found close to 21 turbines, suggests that wind energy could be harmful to certain migratory species.The bat counts were averaged to give a death toll per mega watt generated. Extrapolating this to the total power generated in the US, gave an estimate of 600,000 deaths.
However, it is not clear what fraction of the bat population this represents. Mark Hayes, who carried out the analysis, said: “We really do not know how many bats there are in the US.”
The existing threats to bats from climate change and a fungal disease, white-nose syndrome, made the latest finding a concern, he added.
“The new estimate is worrying especially as bat populations grow slowly, with most species producing only one young a year,” he said.