The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is investigating a groundbreaking Nevada wind farm after finding a dead golden eagle on its premises last month. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Spring Valley Wind Farm may face a $200,000 fine because it does not have a federal permit that allows for incidental deaths of the bird. Wind-energy facilities are not required to have the permits, but without one, the FWS can investigate and persecute them for eagle deaths, leveling a fine of up to $200,000. This is the only eagle Spring Valley has killed since the farm’s opening last August.
The eagle’s death comes a few months after the installation was recognized for its “environmental leadership.” It won the award at an international conference in December, where the the wind farm was applauded for its “groundbreaking mitigation measures,” including “an advanced radar system designed to protect birds and bats.” Environmental groups opposed the farm’s construction over concerns about the impact it might have on wildlife.
Representatives from the FWS said the wind farm “did all the things they were supposed to” following an eagle’s death, but that they “really prefers that wind developers work with the service early on in the process” and secure a permit.
Spring Valley is not actually a breeding ground for golden eagles, but they do migrate through the region, as bald eagles do occasionally, too. Both species are given specific protections by a 1940 federal law, and both have been easy prey for the increasing number of wind farms across the U.S. Deroy Murdock wrote about the issue for NRO last May — as many as 500 golden eagles a year may be killed in the western U.S. by wind turbines.