One of the realities of life is that all actions have consequences and all actions have tradeoffs. Wind power is no exception, especially with regard to environmental issues. Wind power is seen as a clean source of energy, but what is frequently not seen is that wind turbines kill a lot of bats.
Unlike more charismatic creatures like polar bears, pandas, or wolves, bats are not sympathetically portrayed by popular culture or by most environmental groups. But bats are actually critical consumers of harmful pests that feed on crops. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that bats provide about $23 billion in benefits to America’s agricultural industry each year.
Wind turbines, however, killed almost 900,000 bats last year alone, according to a recent paper published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin. Meanwhile, some who work directly with the wind industry to reduce bat deaths at wind facilities have described the industry’s response as “mixed” and “unsustainable.”
Wind Industry’s Impact on Agriculture
Bats provide important benefits to the agricultural industry. USGS considers bats “among the most overlooked economically important, non-domesticated animals in North America” for the pest control services they provide to farmers. The USGS believes that the value of the pest control services provided by bats is $22.9 billion annually.