I don't recall if the US Fish and Wildlife Service has gone "final" with its plan to legally allow wind turbines to kill migratory birds (whooping cranes, golden eagles, bald eagles, and such).
Meanwhile, of course, six or seven oil companies in North Dakota have been charged with killing 26 migratory birds (ducks) this past spring when the birds allegedly flew into oil waste pits during one of the worse spring floods in North Dakota history.
So, here we have a bit of irony. BP plans to build $800 million worth of migratory bird killers in Kansas in 2012.
BP Plc announced plans on Monday to build an $800 million wind farm in Kansas next year, providing a lift for the U.S. wind power industry as its outlook dims with the looming expiry of federal tax credits.
The 419-megawatt Flat Ridge 2 wind farm will include 262 General Electric turbines spinning about 43 miles southwest of Wichita, BP said, in what will be the largest installation for both the state and BP Wind Energy.Because of the Central Flyway migratory route, Kansas claims 470 species of birds within its borders more than surrounding states. Ah, yes, some folks were upset with the Gulf spill. Now they can talk about sanctioned bird kills.
The other irony in all this is that under normal operating conditions, wind turbines are expected to kill birds. When birds are killed by wind turbines it is not because the turbines are malfunctioning; they are operating as engineered.
On the other hand, everyone in the oil industry -- regulators, operators, oil service companies, environmentalists -- are working to prevent a malfunction in the oil exploration and production system which would harm the environment. But accidents happen.
From the wind turbine perspective, when a whooping crane or a bald eagle is killed by a wind turbine, it is not an accident. I guess that's why it's legal.
Meanwhile, environmentalists are lined up in Nebraska to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.
The irony of it all.
By the way, how many ducks and/or mergansers are hunters allowed to take in North Dakota during hunting season? The daily limit is six ducks/day/hunter and five mergansers/day/hunter with 12 and 10, respectively, of each in possession. Once the hunter has disposed of the "possession limit" he/she may go out for more. I don't know how many duck hunters there are in North Dakota, but at least one estimate puts 80,000 duck hunters in Minnesota.
So, are there any whooping cranes in Kansas?
Likely the most well-known endangered bird in North America, the whooping crane was nearly extinct. In 1941, only 16 birds made the semiannual migration between Canada and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Through intensive conservation efforts, this number grew to 43 by 1966 and just over 230 individuals in 2004. There were 54 documented nests in 2004 at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. These nests produced a record number 41 young. There is also a captive breeding flock in Florida. The population is closely monitored on breeding grounds, wintering grounds and in migration by wildlife officials. Whooping cranes occur over central Kansas during migration and are often seen near Cheyenne Bottoms or Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. For many Kansans, spotting a whooping crane is a sighting of a lifetime.