The deaths of at least six golden eagles from wind turbines in the Tehachapi Mountains have sparked a federal investigation by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Two hundred ton blades at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Pine Tree Wind Project in Kern County are being blamed for catching multiple birds in their 123-foot-long spans.
Officials at the Fish and Wildlife Service could not comment on the open investigation, but said wind turbines have been a probable cause of death for migratory birds across the nation.
So far, no wind energy company has been prosecuted by federal wildlife authorities in connection with the death of these endangered species, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Wind farms have been killing birds for decades and law enforcement has done nothing about it, so this investigation is long overdue,” Shawn Smallwood, an expert on raptor ecology and wind farms, told The Times.
She said the investigation is “going to ruffle wind industry feathers across the country.”
Golden eagles are federally protected by the Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which lists over 800 species of birds under its sanctuary.
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In a prepared statement, Joe Ramallo, DWP spokesman, said the agency is “very concerned” about the deaths.
Previous reports noted the DWP was working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, but the latter agency said they are not involved in the investigation.
“We are of course concerned because (the eagles) are endangered, but we have no input right now,” said Andrew Huan, spokesman for the department. “We are watching it, but really it’s the power company's issue.”
The Pine Tree project serves about 56,000 homes in Los Angeles and reduces 200,000 tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of 35,000 cars, according to the project’s website.